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Stage 2: Formulating a Problem Statement

How can we effectively formulate a problem statement? We shall discuss the methods here.
Stage 2 is an important progression from Stage 1. In Stage 1, you have gathered hopefully all the relevant information that you will need to obtain a clear and comprehensive picture of the situation that you are trying to tackle. The objective of Stage 2 is to bring clarity and focus from the information that you have obtained in Stage 1 In order to do so, it would be useful for you to extend your stakeholder cohort at this stage. This means involving more persons from the different stakeholder categories in step 2.11.
You could invite representatives to a round table discussion, where you present the raw data that you have gathered from Stage 1 to all present, and together you will CONNECT and IDENTIFY patterns to arrive at the theme of the problem, or the problem statement. Realistically speaking, your end user or client could already have a problem statement that they gave you when they first approached you. For example, if you are a design engineer in an electronics manufacturer, your boss could have given you a design brief for you to expand on.
Even if this is the case, you must not bypass this stage, as it is your job as the design engineer to reframe and improve the problem statement by thoroughly understanding the different perspectives offered by your Information Gathering stage above.

At the end of the process, You will be aiming to describe a meaningful problem statement at the end of this session. You will be achieving this through the following steps:

  1. Identify your target user.
  2. Extract the most essential needs.
  3. Translate those needs into a problem statement.
  4. Provides a narrow focus.
  5. Provides a set of criteria which you can later use to evaluate competing ideas for solutions.
  6. Serves as a starting thinking point for innovation.
  7. It is actionable, meaningful and exciting.
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Ideation: The First Step in Engineering Design

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