- A Problem-Solving Pattern
- Step 2: Understand the Environment
- Step 3: List Hypotheses
- Step 4: Prioritize Hypotheses and Narrow Focus
- Step 5: Create a Plan of Attack
- Step 6: Act on Your Plan
- Step 7: Test Results
- Step 8: Apply Results of Testing to Hypotheses
- Step 9: Iterate as Needed
- About this Article
Step 4: Prioritize Hypotheses and Narrow Focus
This is the step where we stop making work for ourselves and start making our jobs easier. Although we've just made a list of things that could be the problem, we don't want to research every item on the list if we don't have to. Instead, we can prioritize the potential causes and chase down the most likely ones first. Eventually, we'll either solve the problem or run out of possible causes (in which case we need to go back to Step 3).
As you're prioritizing your list, pay particular attention to recent changes. These are often the source of your problems. Changes meant to improve the environment often have unintended consequences.