Clarity about the problem we need to solve is the first step toward making a good decision.
This is obvious. Many times, however, the discussion turns around some aspect that is not the real problem:
It may be a symptom or some trouble that seems important to some of the people involved in the decision–we all have our darlings–but is not what we need to decide about.
The timeframe may be wrong. That other problem is important… but it is not the decision we need to face today.
We may avoid the real problem because our intuition tells us that possible decisions may involve sunk costs that we don’t want to let go.
We may miss the real problem because emotion clutters our reasoning, or are taking assumptions for facts.
We may avoid the real problem because we don’t know what we will do about it. If the real problem were easy to solve, probably someone would have solved it already. It’s easier to focus on other apparent problems we do know how to solve.