problem statements

Effective Problem Statements: Free Template and Examples for Managers

As a manager, identifying and solving business problems is essential to your role. But where do you start? This is where problem statements come in – they allow you to clearly define the problem, its context, stakeholders involved, goals to achieve, and metrics to measure success. In this blog post, we will help you understand what a problem statement is, when to use it, and how to write one. We will also provide five examples of effective statements of problems to help you get started. So whether you’re new to management or looking to improve your problem-solving skills, keep reading to learn more about writing good problem statements.

What is a problem statement?

Introducing a problem and its root cause is crucial for identifying and solving business challenges. A problem statement gives managers a clear definition of the issue, which helps them stay focused on the underlying problem rather than getting caught up in addressing symptoms. A good problem statement should be specific and measurable while providing context to explain why the issue is essential to solving it. By using well-crafted examples of problem statements, managers can gain guidance and inspiration when developing their own for specific challenges.

When to use a problem statement?

When faced with a business problem, it can be challenging to identify the root cause and determine the most effective solution. This is where problem statements come in handy. A good statement provides a clear and concise overview of the issue that needs to be addressed, making it easy for stakeholders to understand the problem and work towards finding a resolution. By using a structured approach such as SMART criteria, managers can create problem statements that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, ensuring that they are effective in guiding discussions and decision-making processes.

Five Components of a Problem Statement

illustration depicting the five components of a problem statement by Risely

Component #1: Problem summary

Highlighting the issue at hand, a problem summary is essential to a well-structured problem statement. It should clearly and concisely describe the problem while avoiding vague or general statements. The summary should also be relevant to the team’s objectives and goals, providing enough information for readers to understand the problem’s impact. Crafting an effective problem summary can help stakeholders understand the need to address the issue while setting a foundation for identifying possible solutions.

Component #2: Problem context

Effective problem-solving requires a clear understanding of the issue’s context. The problem context provides a comprehensive view of the problem, outlining its history, scope, and relevant factors that contribute to the present situation. By considering various internal and external influences that impact the problem, stakeholders can build an accurate understanding of the issue and develop practical solutions. Therefore, in writing good statements, it is crucial to define the problem in terms of its broader context so that all concerned parties can understand the underlying causes of its persistence.

Component #3: Stakeholders

When crafting a problem statement, it’s essential to identify and define the stakeholders involved. These stakeholders can be internal or external, including employees, management, customers, suppliers, or the local community. An organization can prioritize solutions and meet its needs by clearly defining the stakeholders and their interests. Considering all relevant stakeholders is important to avoid overlooking potential solutions or exacerbating the problem by neglecting certain groups. Therefore, stakeholder identification is a critical component of any well-crafted problem statement.

Component #4: Goals

The goals component of a statement is a critical aspect that outlines the desired outcome. It provides a clear direction for developing effective solutions and achieving results. By using SMART criteria– specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound-, the goals can be well defined, making them easier to achieve. The goals should align with the organization’s objectives and consider any constraints or limitations that may impact achieving them. Clear goals help focus efforts on finding the most effective solution while ensuring that everyone involved works towards a common goal.

Component #5: Metrics

Metrics are crucial to a problem statement as they help measure the problem’s scope and severity. They provide a clear and measurable way to track progress toward resolution while also quantifying the impact of the problem on stakeholders. For example, metrics such as cost savings, productivity improvements, or customer satisfaction ratings can be used to set specific goals and objectives for resolving the problem. By choosing metrics that align with organizational priorities, problem-solving efforts can be focused on achieving the most impactful results. Ultimately, incorporating metrics into a statement helps to ensure that solutions are practical and meaningful for all stakeholders involved.

Problem Statement Examples for Managers

Example #1: The Status Quo Problem Statement

Many teams face challenges that hinder productivity, customer satisfaction, or revenue growth. The status quo problem statement is a powerful tool for identifying areas of improvement and initiating change. This type of statement sets the context by describing the current state of the issue. It highlights the gap between the desired outcome and the current situation. By articulating what is not working well, managers can motivate their teams to search for solutions and improvements that can help them achieve better results.

Employees at our company are using outdated software to perform their daily tasks. This is causing inefficiencies in the workflow and leading to longer processing times, which is impacting our prductivity and customer satisfaction

Example #2: The Destination Problem Statement

When setting goals, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the desired outcome. The Destination Problem Statement provides this clarity by defining specific objectives that need to be achieved. Whether aiming to increase sales or improve customer satisfaction, this statement helps identify the target audience, available resources, and potential obstacles. For example, if your company seeks to expand its market share in a new region, the Destination Problem Statement outlines the necessary steps to achieve this goal. You can develop effective strategies to reach the destination by clearly defining it.

Our organization aims to become a leader in sustainable business practices. However, we currently lack a comprehensive sustainability strategy and are struggling to achieve our sustainability goals.

Example #3: The Stakeholder Problem Statement

When addressing a problem, it’s essential to consider the perspectives of all parties involved. The Stakeholder Problem Statement provides a framework for doing just that. By identifying the needs and concerns of key stakeholders of the issue, this approach ensures that solutions satisfy their requirements while working towards the overall goal. In addition, this problem statement facilitates effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders, fostering a sense of shared purpose and joint ownership of the solution.

Our customers are experiencing long wait times and delays when trying to reach our customer service department. This is causing frustration and dissatisfaction, leading to a decline in customer retention and loyalty.

Example #4: The Solution-Focused Problem Statement

A solution-focused problem statement can be an effective approach when solving complex problems. Starting with acknowledging the current situation and shifting towards a positive direction by envisioning a desired outcome, this problem statement encourages brainstorming and creative thinking to find practical solutions. It helps break down barriers and inspire action, mainly when the problem seems overwhelming or complex. With a focus on solutions, this approach promotes progress and helps to achieve specific objectives.

Our sales team is struggling to close deals due to a lack of product knowledge and inadequate sales training. By providing additional training and resources to our sales team, we can increase their confidence and ability to close more deals.

Example #5: The Need-Gap Problem Statement

Launching a new product or service can be challenging, especially when there is significant competition in the market. The Need-Gap Problem Statement effectively addresses this challenge by identifying the unmet needs of potential customers. This statement helps teams develop unique products or services that meet the specific requirements of their target audience, setting them apart from their competitors. By conducting thorough market research, teams can gain insight into the gaps in the market and create a solution that caters to those needs. 

Our target market is seeking a product that is affordable, eco-friendly, and effective. However, there are currently no products on the market that meet these criteria, creating a gap in the market that our company could potentially fill.

Leadership Problem Statements Examples

Team Communication
Problem Statement: “Communication breakdowns within our team are leading to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and decreased collaboration. We need to establish efficient communication channels and protocols to enhance team coordination and project outcomes.”

Team Skill Development
Problem Statement: “The skill gap within our team is affecting our ability to deliver high-quality results. We must implement a structured skill development program to upskill team members and align their capabilities with project requirements.”

Team Motivation and Engagement
Problem Statement: “Dwindling team motivation and engagement levels are impacting overall enthusiasm and creativity. We must develop initiatives that foster a positive team culture, boost morale, and inspire innovative thinking.”

Delegation and Workload Balance
Problem Statement: “Uneven distribution of tasks and responsibilities is leading to burnout for some team members, while others have underutilized skills. We need to refine our delegation process to ensure a balanced workload and promote individual growth.”

Team Diversity and Inclusion
Problem Statement: “Lack of diversity and inclusion initiatives within our team can limit perspectives and hinder creativity. We need to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment that values different backgrounds and encourages open dialogue.”

Succession Planning
Problem Statement: “The absence of a succession plan poses a risk to our team’s stability and continuity. We need to identify and groom potential leaders within the team to ensure a smooth transition and sustained performance.”

How to write a problem statement? Free Template

Introducing a compelling problem statement is crucial to solving strategic problems efficiently. Stakeholders can develop a shared understanding and work towards a common goal by clearly defining the problem and its impact on the organization. However, crafting an effective problem statement requires careful consideration and a systematic approach. In this section, we will explore the steps involved in writing a comprehensive problem statement that reflects the root cause of the issue and identifies potential solutions.

problem statement template for managers by Risely

Step 1: Gather data and observe

Before crafting an effective problem statement, it’s vital to understand the problem clearly. Step 1 is gathering the correct data and observing the situation in detail. Whether conducting surveys, interviews, or research, data is crucial in gaining valuable insights into the problem. By following the issue in action, you can identify its root causes and potential solutions. And with a thorough understanding of the problem, you can craft a well-written statement that accurately defines the issue and provides direction for future solutions.

Step 2: Frame the problem properly

Framing the problem accurately is essential to identifying practical solutions. By clearly defining the problem and its impact on stakeholders or the team and considering underlying causes and biases, you can begin to formulate an effective strategy. It’s essential to avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions about the problem without proper data analysis. You should also consider how the issue aligns with your organization’s goals and values. By framing the problem carefully, you can improve your chances of finding a solution that addresses it effectively while avoiding unnecessary complications.

Step 3: Keep asking why (and check in on the progress)

Asking “why” repeatedly is a powerful technique for problem-solving. It allows you to delve deeper into the underlying causes of a problem instead of just addressing its symptoms. Using this approach, you can get to the root cause of the issue and create more effective solutions. Checking progress periodically is also important to stay on track and adjust your approach if necessary. Measuring specific metrics or outcomes is crucial to gauge success, and continuously refining your problem statement based on feedback and progress can lead to better results. Keep these points in mind when crafting your problem statement and approaching any challenges that may arise.

Learn more about the 5 whys technique: Uncovering the Root Cause: The Power of the 5 Whys Technique


In conclusion, crafting a good problem statement is crucial to solving business problems effectively. In addition, it helps in providing direction and clarity to project teams and stakeholders. Following the five components of a problem statement, you can create a well-structured and concise statement that accurately defines the issue. Moreover, by using the examples provided and following the three steps mentioned in our blog, you can learn how to write an effective problem statement that leads to efficient problem-solving. 

Sharpen your problem-solving skills to unleash your true potential.

Become the manager you have always wanted to be – test your problem-solving skills and defeat hidden issues.

Problem Statement for Managers FAQs

What is a problem statement in management?

A problem statement in management is a clear, concise, and detailed description of an issue or challenge that an organization is facing. It defines the problem, explains its impact, and provides a rationale for why it needs to be solved. A well-crafted problem statement is a critical first step in the problem-solving process for managers and can help focus efforts towards finding a solution.

What are the 3 parts to the problem statement?

The three parts to a problem statement are: (1) the problem itself, clearly and concisely defined; (2) the context or background information of the problem; and (3) the significance or importance of the problem, highlighting why it needs to be addressed.

What is an example of a problem statement in management?

An example of a problem statement in management might be: “The team is experiencing a decrease in customer satisfaction ratings, as evidenced by a decline in repeat business and an increase in customer complaints. This problem is negatively impacting the team’s reputation and revenue. It is important to identify the underlying causes of the decline in customer satisfaction and implement solutions to improve the customer experience.”

Other Related Blogs

Games for negotiation skills

Top 10 Games for Negotiation Skills to Make You a Better Leader

Top 10 Games for Negotiation Skills to Make You a Better Leader Negotiation skills are essential in today’s workplace and can be honed through various methods. One fun and effective…

Manager Effectiveness: A Complete Guide for Managers in 2023

Manager Effectiveness: A Complete Guide for Managers in 2023 Manager effectiveness is everyone’s favorite buzzword. But the road to achieving it is trickier than it looks like! While manager effectiveness…

5 Proven Ways Managers can Build Collaboration in a Team

5 Proven Ways Managers can Build Collaboration in a Team In today’s fast-paced world, team collaboration is the key to success. But, not all workplaces are conducive to collaborative teams.…

What is the role of problem-solving in leadership?

What is the role of problem-solving in leadership? Are you a leader who struggles to find effective solutions to complex problems? Do you feel like your team is stuck in…

Comments are closed.