Problem Structuring and Scope

You may know that something is wrong, that something needs to be done, without really knowing what needs to be decided, what the possibilities are, who is responsible for making the decision. For example, perhaps company profits are falling. Something needs to be done. But what? Is it just a problem for the marketing department, better advertising, etc? Or do we need to design new products? Or do we just need a better way of manufacturing our current range of products - the concern of the manufacturing departments?

Even when we think we have a clear choice between well defined alternatives, it is a good idea to take time to make sure that we are answering the right question.

For example, Jane's mother has offered to take Jane out for a day if she passes her school exam. Now Jane must choose where she would like to go. A visit to the zoo? A day by the seaside? Maybe a theme park?
But perhaps the real question is what Jane would like as a treat, within the bounds of a certain cost, not where she would like to go. Perhaps she should ask to be given a camera or a book token instead of a day out.

Therefore it may be useful to start the process of decision making with a broadening of the view, with lateral thinking, bringing in more remote possibilities and concerns. Then the ideas can be sorted and evaluated, and finally brought together again to end up with just a few alternatives from which a choice can be made.
Broaden the view

Brain storming is one way that is often recommended to broaden the perspective, to generate creative new ideas, and to promote lateral thinking.

Brain storming