The Problem-Goal-Solution trinity 

Presented by Hans van Loenhoud, MSc, Treasurer of the International Requirements Engineering Board e.V.
Problems, goals and solutions for an inseparable trinity. 
  • In order to develop a proper solution, the whole landscape of problems and goals must be clarified.A problem is a current state in the context of stakeholder, that is experienced as negative, because it inhibits certain behavior.
  • A goal is a future state in the context of a stakeholder, that is seen as desirable, because it enables certain behavior.
  • A problem always relates to a goal, being the desired, but inhibited behavior. A goal is only recognized as such if something (a blocking issue being the related problem) has to be overcome first.
  • A solution is the roadmap for an intervention in the context of the stakeholder, that solves the problem and enables the goal.
  • A negative state where no solution is thought to be possible, will not be recognized as a problem, but as an unfortunate fact. In the same way, a goal without a solution is a daydream.
  • Problems and goals do not exist in reality: they are subjective concepts of stakeholders. The same context state can be considered a problem by one stakeholder and a goal for another one. Consequently, they can only be unveiled by elicitation.
Requirements engineering is about developing solutions for stakeholders. Proper solutions can only be found, if the whole landscape of all related problems and goals is clarified.
In this session, you will learn that:
  • A problem is a subjective concept of a stakeholder about a current state in his context that is experienced as negative.
  • A goal is a subjective concept of a stakeholder about a future state in his context that is experienced as desirable.
  • A solution is a mental construct: a roadmap for an intervention in the context to remove the problem that inhibits the goal.
  • Problems, goals and solutions always come together.
  • Problems, goals and solutions are recursive.
About the presenter:

hans-van-loenhoudHans van Loenhoud graduated as a biologist and worked in ecological research at the University of Amsterdam. In 1980 he switched to IT and started a career as a Cobol programmer. For more than 10 years, he was involved in IT development projects for customers in finance, industry and government. Later on, he specialized in consultancy on data, information and quality management.Around Y2K Hans entered the field of software testing and worked as a test manager. During this work, he took interest in requirements engineering, because he is convinced that good requirements are a prerequisite for professional testing. Nowadays, he is committed to build the bridge between the two disciplines, acting as a trainer for ISTQB, TMap, IREB and iSQI courses.
Since 2016, he is member of the Executive Committee of the International Requirements Engineering Board.