Ascendis Blog

The 30-Minute Problem-Solving Checklist for Organizational Leaders

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Leaders often do not have a large span of time to solve problems and develop strategies. The best way to define problems is to consider defining the situation first. 

All situations in business can be viewed from the perspective of a problem to be solved. It may be a good situation such as “we have an opportunity for tremendous growth,” or it may be a serious problem like “we’re about to lose our biggest client.” Either situation is a problem needing definition before resolution. 

As you go about defining your situation, consider the seven components in the following checklist. The challenge will be to spend no more than 30 minutes listing your answers in the checklist. Are you up for the challenge? Here it is:

  1. What are the “givens?” 

  • Symptoms

  • Economic conditions

  • Industry conditions

  • Assumptions you are making

  1. Stakeholders

  • Problem stakeholders

  • Solution stakeholders

  • Risk stakeholders

  1. Goals

  • Business

  • Stakeholder wants and needs

  • Tradeoffs to be considered

  1. Boundaries – What is in and out of scope?

  2. Barriers

    • Business

    • People

    • Technology

  1. Diagnosis

    • Root cause(s)

    • Causal relationships

    • Questions that need answers

  1. Triage

    • Urgency of the situation

    • Importance of the situation to the business

Now comes the hard part. Prepare a short description of the situation from this checklist and share it with stakeholders. Once you can establish you’re on the same page, you are more likely to move forward with confidence and a full understanding of the problem. 

What are other best practices to organizational problem solving? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization.