Analysis of the Situation -- by Gordon Ziniewicz

1. Overall, what is wrong here? What is the main conflict in this situation? What is the trouble here? What is missing that should be present? What is present that should be missing? (Diagnose the ill.)

2. Analyze those human psychological factors (impulses, desires, habits, feelings, etc.) that are not working together among themselves or are not working together with the environment. Is the individual "torn" within himself/herself? Is his/her way of acting on a collision course with reality? Put yourself in his/her place.

3. What other people are involved? Put yourself in their shoes (empathy). What have they been through? What are they going through? Where are they headed? Where should they be headed? What conflicts are they faced with? What do they have in common? How are they different?

4. Is there a conflict of interests here? Are people working at cross-purposes? If one or the other (or each of them) changed course a bit, would the conflict be lessened or resolved?

5. What external or physical conditions are lacking or troublesome or are failing to cooperate? These could include money, living conditions, health, lack of mobility, etc. Lack of opportunity or "means" is a frequent cause of conflict. What educational or intellectual advantages or opportunities are lacking here?

6. Imagine a desirable "version" of this situation, how it would be if "things were better." How would everything fit together in this "better" situation? What would the overall arrangement of human and environmental energies be like? Would this situation, if it could come about, provide new opportunities and new conditions for improving other situations (or would it be a dead end)?

7. What is right about the present actual situation? What conditions, if encouraged and freed up, would lead to desirable outcomes? What opportunities, even intellectual capacities, "show potential"? What possible good outcomes could result from actual conditions, if these conditions are "freed up" and are allowed to develop?

8. What is wrong about this situation? What conditions are in the way? Can any of them be turned from obstacles to resources, if the content of the ideal situation is revised a bit? What conditions are missing? What new conditions would have to be introduced? Would this be a realistic expectation? Would "changing the course" (changing one's purpose) put more means at one's disposal?

9. What needs to be done? What can be done? Imagine some alternative courses of action which use the available resources to move forward and which can get around or overcome any obstacles in the way.

10. Think of what worked before and why. Use reliable (traditional) principles to sort out the least desirable options. Examine appropriate moral principles or guidelines. Which ones fit, and which ones do not?

11. How does pursuing each imaginary course of action change the picture of the ideal situation? How do the consequences become different depending upon the means chosen? Keep in mind that every change in conditions changes consequences (or outcomes).

12. Apply some standard to each course of action. Is it right? Can it be approved of from an impartial and objective point of view (not slanted by present emotion)?

13. What are the long-term and the wide-ranging possible consequences of each imaginary course of action? What will happen if...? Let each habit or desire take its turn in the imagination. Imagine how each turns out. Test each plan of action in the imagination to see which works the best. Which is the most useful for "getting one's act together" or bringing about harmonious development of individuals in the situation?

14. Which course of action seems to reconcile and tie together the greatest number of conflicting elements? Which course of action brings everything together in the best way?

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