Boundary Examination

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Intent or purpose: 
Boundary Examination is a refinement of problem definition. Defining a boundary to a problem states what is important (inside the boundary) and what is not (outside the boundary). A boundary reflects the biases of the assignment giver and you, as facilitator, The boundary may be part of the problem.
Recognizable Components: 
Problem statement, key words,
Recommended size of group: 
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
A clearer definition of the problem or at least a better understanding of how assumptions affect problem defintions and how problem definition affects assumptions
Level of participation: 
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Facilitation skills required

Boundary Examination can be done as an individual or as a group exercise. If it is done as a group exercise small groups will be doing the method in parallel with each other. The following is written as a group one.
1. Write down an initial statement of the problem.
2. Divide the group into small groups of 2 or 3 people.
3. Have each group underline key words
4. Have each group examine each key word for hidden assumptions. A good way to do this is to see how the meaning of the statement changes if you replace a key word by a synonym or near synonym.
5. Have each small group share their assumptions.
6. Having explored how the particular choice of key words affects the meaning of the statement, see if the small groups can redefine the problem in a better way.
7. Have each small group share the results of their discussions.
8. Come to an agreement about the definition of the problem.

How flexible is the process?: 
Follow-Up Required: 
Solve the problem.
Rickards (1974) and VanGrundy (1981) DeBono (1982) created this version..
History of Development: 

Boundary Examination was described by Rickards (1974) and VanGrundy (1981)

1.DeBono Edward de Bono, Lateral Thinking for Management, 1982, Penguin)(1982) created this version.

Tudor Rickards, "Problem solving through Creative Analysis", 1974, Gower Publishing DeBono Edward de Bono, "Lateral Thinking for Management", 1982, Penguin)(1982) Van Gundy, A. B. (1988). Techniques of structured problem solving. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Van Gundy, A. B. (1992) Idea power: Techniques and resources to unleash the creativity in your organization. New York: American Management Association.
License Model: 
Free (or unattributable)