The CATWOE Checklist

Developing a Robust Problem Definition

The CATWOE Checklist - Developing a Robust Problem Definition

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Use CATWOE to focus on the real causes of your problems.

What do you do when you're faced with a really big business problem? Suppose, for example, that your staff retention is low and you don't know why.

Maybe you'd brainstorm the possible reasons, and apply a range of different problem-solving skills to fix them. But what if you've focused on the wrong problem, or you're just looking at one symptom of a larger problem?

By focusing on one aspect, you tend to stop looking for other potential issues. That's when you risk missing the core problem, which could be more serious than the problem you identified first. 

In this article, you can find out how CATWOE can be a useful tool for defining and identifying the real problem.


Put simply, CATWOE is a mnemonic checklist for defining a problem.

It derives from the work of systems engineering professor Peter Checkland, who developed the problem-solving Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) in the 1960s. 


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