Means-End Analysis

Identifying the Steps Needed to Solve a Problem

Break your problem down into smaller actions.

© iStockphoto/Rinelle

Means-End Analysis is a simple tool that helps you to identify the practical steps needed to solve a problem or to reach a desired state.

In this article we'll explore Means-End Analysis, and we'll look at how you can apply it.

About the Tool

Means-End Analysis is essentially an early form of Gap Analysis  . It was created by researchers Allen Newell and Herbert Simon in the late 1950s, and it was then published their 1972 book, "Human Problem Solving."

Newell and Simon were creating an effective problem-solving program for early computers, and Means-End Analysis was a direct result of this research. They named the tool "Means-End" because it helps you define the means needed to reach a desired end.

Means-End Analysis might seem quite simplistic at first glance. However, when you begin using it, you'll find that it's a practical and useful method for solving simple problems.

How to Use the Tool

Step 1: Define Your Initial State (Problem)

Start by defining the problem you're trying to solve. It might help to write the problem down on a piece of paper, or even draw out a diagram.

It's important to you make sure you're trying to solve the right problem, and not just

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