[WEC] What is the problem?
rob at friends.org
Fri Jan 25 11:22:33 PST 2008
Dear WEC friends,
Whether or not we decide to hire someone like Sam Seskin to help us in our
work, I very much appreciated having someone of his caliber and experience
donate his time to us, if only briefly.
As I mentioned towards the end of our meeting on Thursday, I thought he told
us a few helpful things:
* The process and steps it makes sense to follow depends on what kind of
product we are trying to produce.
* What kind of product we are capable of producing depends on the time and
money we have available to us. With less time and money, we might have to
set our expectations lower.
* Skipping steps can get you into trouble. In particular, it is important to
agree on values and evaluation measures before getting too deep into
But I forgot to mention one other thing he said that struck me as useful. He
asked if we had developed a problem statement. I told him we had developed a
³problem sentence,² which caused him to sort of chuckle:
> ³The perception is that the current transportation infrastructure does not
> meet needs for local and through traffic and that if we don¹t do something
> now, the transportation problems will get worse.²
Sam indicated that it is critical to develop a detailed problem statement,
perhaps several paragraphs long or even a page or two long, that spells out
in detail the concerns we have and grounds this in objective or subjective
Thinking about Sam¹s suggestions, I am concerned that we don¹t collectively
understand the problem (or even necessarily agree there is a problem). Our
original intention was to start with the sentence above as a working problem
statement, but to refine this with more information to have a much more
specific understanding of the problem (or problems) we are actually aiming
to solve, hence what might be reasonable solutions to the problem.
I think we already know from our work on the LTD purpose & need statement
how critical it is to clearly identify the problem. Some of us were long
critical of work on the West Eugene Parkway because we believed that ODOT
had identified the wrong problem in their purpose and need, or at least had
failed to capture elements of the problem having to do with making West 11th
a place one would want to be.
As we move forward, I think it is critical for us to heed Sam¹s advice and
to ask ourselves ³What is the is the problem?² and agree to a more detailed
answer before getting too far down the road trying to agree to a solution.
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