It is important that the problem be described in terms that have the same meaning to everyone. This is best achieved through an operational definition. An operational definition consists of verifiable criteria that have the same meaning to the production workers, manager, customer, engineer, buyer, technician, team members, etc., and are used for past, present and future comparisons and analysis.
Sometimes problems are mistakenly described in terms of symptoms:
Machine is down due to electrical problem. No backup machine or alternative available.
The scrap rate has increased from “X” date from 3% to 22%.
Customer warranty claims on “X” engine component is 12%.
Failure of durability tests of a transmission component at 50,000 miles will delay launch.