- A Problem-Solving Pattern
- Step 2: Understand the Environment
- Step 3: List Hypotheses
- Step 4: Prioritize Hypotheses and Narrow Focus
- Step 5: Create a Plan of Attack
- Step 6: Act on Your Plan
- Step 7: Test Results
- Step 8: Apply Results of Testing to Hypotheses
- Step 9: Iterate as Needed
- About this Article
Step 3: List Hypotheses
Having made a list of the affected systems (in Step 2), we can begin to list potential causes of the problem. It's safe to brainstorm at this stage because we will be narrowing our search later. In fact, it is better to be overly creative here and end up with extra hypotheses than to miss the actual cause and chase blind leads.
Just like the maps of the problem environment, your list of hypotheses doesn't need to be anything formal. A mental list is normally fine; something scrawled on a piece of scratch paper is even better. Sometimes, though, you'll want a formal document; big network issues affecting lots of people just cry out for formal documents (well, at least the managers involved cry a lot).