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14 Types of Problem

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A problem is a situation you want to change, a risk you want to reduce or an opportunity you want to seize. The following are common types of problem.


A problem that is heavily constrained with few available options.


A problem that is wide open with a large universe of possible options.


A problem that involves little or no uncertainty.

Known Unknowns

Uncertainties that you can identify such as the probability that a product will fail on the market.

Unknowns Unknowns

Problems spaces where your not sure where to start identifying risks.


Situations that involve cooperation or competition between nations, organizations, teams, informal social structures and individuals.


Problems that aren't social in nature such as fixing a machine.

Root Cause Analysis

Attempting to determine the root cause a problem so that they can be efficiently and permanently solved.


Attempting to get things working again as soon as possible without addressing the causes of a problem.


Developing plans for the future.


Planning to address current realities.

Decision Making

Problems that require a choices between strategies or options.


Changing things incrementally to improve and optimize them.


A problem that calls for completely replacing things with something new.
Overview: Problems
Definition (1)
A current situation or condition that is undesirable.
Definition (2)
A risk or opportunity that requires action to avoid losses or realize gains.
Definition (3)
An unresolved question.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about thinking.
Decision Making
Known Unknowns
Root Cause
Tactical Planning
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