When you have a bright idea there is always someone who takes the wind out of your sails by asking “what about …?”. Why not preempt them by doing a little homework first? Below are 50 questions, variations on the usual who, what, why, when, where. Think your idea through using these as prompts and see if you can improve your idea.

Who
1. Who is affected by the problem?
2. Who else has it?
3. Who says it is a problem?
4. Who would like a solution?
5. Who would not like a solution?
6. Who could prevent a solution?
7. Who needs it solved more than you?

When
8. When does it occur?
9. When doesn’t it occur?
10. When did it appear?
11. When will it disappear?
12. When do other people see your problem as a problem?
13. When don’t other people see your problem as a problem?
14. When is the solution needed?
15. When might it occur again?
16. When will it get worse?
17. When will it get better?

Why
18. Why is this situation a problem?
19. Why do you want to solve it?
20. Why don’t you want to solve it?
21. Why doesn’t it go away?
22. Why would someone else want to solve it?
23. Why wouldn’t someone else want to solve it?
24. Why is it easy to solve?
25. Why is it hard to solve?

What
26. What might change about it?
27. What are its main weaknesses?
28. What do you like about it?
29. What do you dislike about it?
30. What can be changed about it?
31. What can’t be changed?
32. What do you know about it?
33. What don’t you know about it?
34. What will it be like if it is solved?
35. What will it be like if it isn’t solved?
36. What have you done in the past with similar problems?
37. What principles underlie it?
38. What values underlie it?
39. What problem elements are related to one another?
40. What assumptions are you making about it?
41. What seems to be most important about it?
42. What seems to be least important about it?
43. What are the sub-problems?
44. What are your major objectives in solving it?
45. What else do you need to know?

Where
46. Where is it most noticeable?
47. Where is it least noticeable?
48. Where else does it exist?
49. Where is the best place to begin looking for solutions?
50. Where does it fit in the larger scheme of things?

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