Don’t problem solve to infinity
Good problem statements define a gap to close. They do not just describe an undesirable condition that you would like to remove completely.
Why does it matter?
It comes down to when you consider yourself “done”, or at least done for now. David Allen of “Getting Things Done” fame talks about defining what done looks like. In this blog post, here is an explanation:
Most of the tasks people keep on their to-do lists are “amorphous blobs of undoability” — commitments without any clear vision of what being “done” looks like. That’s a huge problem — your brain is naturally designed to help you figure out how to do things, but only if you know what the end point looks like. Everything you’re working on should have a very clear stopping point — a point where you know you’re done. If you don’t know what that point looks like, you’ll find it very difficult to make any progress at all. When you’re having trouble making progress, first clarify what being done looks like.
Working on the problem of “improve the efficiency of the meeting by 25 percent” is very different than the problem of “eliminate the meeting.”
You don’t want to ever consider a problem done. You want to pursue the ideal state. You chase perfection. However, when planning your next project or tasks, you need to bound your problem solving. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself churning and churning on one problem and not moving forward as an organization.