In our reading group at work recently we looked at Are Your Lights On? By Weinberg and Gauss. Opinions of it were mixed but I forgive any flaws it may have for this one definition:
A problem is a difference between things as desired and things as perceived.
It’s hard to beat for pithiness, but Michael Bolton’s relative rule comes close. It runs:
For any abstract X, X is X to some person, at some time.
And combining these gives us good starting points for attacking a problem of any magnitude:
- the things
- the perception of those things
- the desires for those things
- the person(s) desiring or perceiving
- the context(s) in which the desiring or percieving is taking place