This article is part of the 2004 Selected Papers published and accessible at This paper is pp.193-197 of that collection.


Despite the availability of a wide range of problem solving methods, individuals continue to struggle with problems. Scientists attempt to address recurring economic, social, political, and organizational problems through the expansion of knowledge and theory. ... Cause-effect relationships advance logical explanations, predict future events,and forecast consequences. Theories and thinking based on cause-effect findings become recognized science (Goldratt, 1990) and move the field of inquiry from "art" to that of disciplined examination. In problem solving, the root cause of the problem produces an undesirable effect. Any pursuit that does not seek the root cause leads only to the symptom of the problem and, by definition, solving a symptom will not solve a problem. Problem solvers identify root causes of problems to be able to predict future cause and effect relationships. The purposeful application of an analysis method can address complex problems using a structured approach rather than emotion or intuition.


Engineering | Operational Research | Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering