Problem Statements are one of the most powerful tools in the Six Sigma tool kit (and there are no statistics involved!)

A problem statement is a short but concise description of a problem. In just 2-3 sentences, a problem statement should describe, in simple language, what the problem is, how often it happens and how serious the problem is for the business.

Sounds easy? Well, in reality, project teams often find it quite difficult to reach agreement on what the problem is. Even when a team appears to share the same view on the problem, differences in opinion can surface when the team try to summarise the problem into a short statement of 2-3 sentences.

So, problem statements help to develop a shared vision within the project team. In addition, they also help to gain consensus between the project sponsor and the project team, since a problem statement is a critical part of a project charter – signed off at the end of the Define phase.

In summary, the power of problem statements lies in the fact that they force the team to sit down, discuss and understand the problem, before everyone rushes off in different directions trying to solve it!