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What’s the Problem?

by Dr Cedric Nazareth

Anyone will agree that to solve a problem, one must first know what the problem really is. Sounds obvious enough, doesn’t it? However, only too often, a problem is inappropriately addressed because the problem-solver has not got to the crux of the problem in the first place. In such situations, several sophisticated techniques could help us to analyse problems from every possible angle, but what we will discuss here will be the a method that is as simple as it is effective.

Let us imagine this problem : Doctor(s) are not prescribing a particular product. A simplistic but incorrect way to solve this problem would be to probe a bit, and then to exercise one or more of the following options - work on some good promotional material, exert more pressure on the field staff, conduct a training programme and/or organise doctor meets.

On the other hand, let us try to get to the root of the problem. A simple technique can take us there; let us call it the “The Why Way”. It only involves asking “why?”. Not just once, but as as many times as necessary to throw up the real answers.

It goes like this. You have a problem. You ask why. You get some answer. You ask why, once again. Another answer. Another why - and so on, till you believe that you have got to the bottom of it all. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Simple, isn’t it?

Back to our example. A doctor is not prescribing a product. Why? He is prescribing a competitor product. Why? Because our medical representative has not been able to convince him to use our product! Why? Our medical representative is not as skilled as the competitors! Why? He is not adequately trained! Why? Our company does not have a full fledged training schedule!

Oh, is that the problem? As can be seen, by asking why, again and again, we can bring out the cause. It could be as simple as that. Take care not to externalize your answers, because the cause of a problem cannot lie outside the organization. Of course, if you are not sure about the answer to a particular question, you’d need to check things out. Alternatively, you could draw up multiple probable answers to a single question. Evaluating each option can in turn lead you to a whole heirarchy of possibilities, ultimately linked to one or more of three basic issues - company policy/systems, structure and people.

Having identified the culprit, you’ll need to solve the problem. And perhaps you’d like to work out a simple technique to help you do that.

Pharma Marketing Page.
This article was published in
Pharma Business 14th July 2000.
All rights reserved

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