Preliminary Questions

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Problem Centred Leadership

Preliminary Questions is a technique that is essentially a development of Five W's and H, a checklist that is recommended for selective use.

Who

  • Is affected by the problem?
  • Else has it?
  • Says it is a problem?
  • Would like a solution?
  • Would not like a solution?
  • Could prevent a solution?
  • Need it solved more than you?

When

  • Does it occur?
  • Doesn’t it occur?
  • Did it appear?
  • Will it disappear?
  • Do other people see your problem as a problem?
  • Don’t other people see your problem as a problem?
  • Is the solution needed?
  • Might it occur again?
  • Will it get worse?
  • Will it get better?

Where

  • Where is it most noticeable?
  • Is it least noticeable?
  • Else does it exist?
  • Is the best place to begin looking for solutions?
  • Does it fit in the larger scheme of things?

Why

  • Is this situation a problem?
  • Do you want to solve it?
  • Don’t you want to solve it?
  • Doesn’t it go away?
  • Would someone else want to solve it?
  • Wouldn’t someone else want to solve it?
  • Is it easy to solve?
  • Is it hard to solve?

What

  • Might change about?
  • Are its main weaknesses?
  • Do you like about it?
  • Do you dislike about it?
  • Can be changed about it?
  • Can’t be changed?
  • Do you know about it?
  • Don’t you know about it?
  • Will it be like if it is solved?
  • Will it be like if it isn’t solved?
  • Have you done in the past with similar problems?
  • Principles underlie it?
  • Values underlie it?
  • Problem elements are related to one another?
  • Assumptions are you making about it?
  • Seems to be most important about it?
  • Seems to be least important about it?
  • Are the sub-problems?
  • Are your major objectives in solving it?
  • Else do you need to know?