In order to determine whether your idea will solve the problem, you have to find the answers of the following questions in stages:

1. What are the causes of the problem?

2. Is there any other cause that I have missed?

3. What do other people say about the causes of this problem?

4. What are the true causes?

5. Will my idea address all these causes that I have identified?

6. If my idea misses one of these causes, then how should it be addressed?

7. How will my idea be implemented?

In the following sections, we are describing in detail all the above mentioned steps:


1. What are the causes of the problem?

For instance, you have generated a grand idea that you think will solve the problem of traffic jam on the street. Now, you are quite confident about the idea, but to know for sure about its viability, you have to know first what are the causes of high level of traffic on the street. After thinking for hours, you found the following causes and wrote them down in your notepad:

There is traffic congestion on our street because:

(a) Our streets are too narrow;

(b) We have too many cars on the street;

(c) We have too many people;

(d) Our traffic polices are not trained enough.

Now after linking your grand idea with all the four causes, you found that your grand idea will address all these four causes and eventually the problem of traffic congestion on the street will vanish. Eureka! You got a grand idea!

But you are wrong!

Let us tell you more about that.


2. Is there any other cause that I have missed?

You have listed only four causes of traffic congestion. Some of them are truly the causes, but some of them are not. For example, what will be your position if we say that the streets in London are narrower than those of your home town, but London does not have as much traffic congestion as your home town does. So are narrow streets can be a cause of traffic jam?

The answer may be no.

The reason of lesser traffic in London even though it has narrower streets might be the fact that London has a very good public transport system. Therefore, the absence of a good public transport system might be a more superior cause of high level of traffic than having narrow streets.

So, to understand the causes of a problem, you have to think really deep.


3. What do other people say about the causes of this problem?

Now you see that you have missed one big cause of traffic congestion and mistakenly outlined one other factor, which might be less important. Therefore, to know all the possible causes of traffic jam in your home town, you have to know what other people have said about the causes of traffic congestion in your home town.

To do that, you have to do a lot of research. Research means finding answers of questions or in simple words, finding answer of "why". So you have to know what other people have so far said about"why do we have traffic jam on our street?"

To find all the possible answers, you might have to read newspapers, published articles, research papers, attend seminars, speak to the people concerned, or even take a survey of the general people who are directly or indirectly related to the issue. You might also need to gather data to determine what are the reasons behind the problem you are thinking about.

Now suppose, after conducting a lot of research, you have come up with the following causes of traffic congestion:

(a) Narrower roads in the city;

(b) Too many three wheelers on the street;

(c) Absence of public buses and a good public transport system;

(d) Untrained police officers;

(e) Absence of army on the street;

(f) Faulty signaling system;

After outlining the causes, you are now ready to propose a solution that will involve making the roads wider, getting rid of the three wheelers from the street, bringing more public buses and establishing underground rail system, training police officers, deploying army on the street, and correcting the faulty signaling system.

Now the question is, are these proposals realistic or will they truly solve the problem?

What will be your answer if we ask the following questions:

(a) What will happen to those poor people who were driving three wheelers, but now evicted?

(b) If the streets are to be made wider, what will happen to the people who will lose their dwelling places? How will they be compensated? Does the Government have that much of money?

(c) If the Army is given the task of traffic police, then what will the traffic police do? Is it  the Army's job to control traffic?

(d) What will happen to the traffic situation if people from villages keep coming to your home town? Will your idea still be able to solve the problem even after making all the above adjustments?

If you think deep about the question (a), you will find that getting rid of a large number of people who are ridingthree wheelers cannot be a solution. If they are evicted, they will be unemployed, and eventually might become criminals. Therefore, in exchange of solving traffic jam, you are generating a new problem. So, your suggestion for getting rid of three wheelers cannot be the solution to this problem.

The same is true for question (b).

When you will face these kinds of questions even after formulating your idea, you have to realize that you are missing the true causes and did not hit the right spot for solving the problem.


4. What are the true causes?

Therefore, you need to know the true causes of the problem of traffic jam. After outlining all the causes that you have thought and you have gathered through research, you will need to screen the causes to find out the true causes of the problem. After finding all the true causes, you will then need to know what are the causes behind these "true causes".

For instance, after evaluating all the causes, you have listed the following causes as "true causes" of the problem of traffic congestion:

(a) Absence of public transport system

(b) Absence of underground or monorail;

(c) High number of migration to the main city;

(d) Extortion of public spaces by different groups;

(e) Absence of proper parking rules;

(f) Absence of strict punishment system for violating rules;

(g) Low number of traffic polices on the street

(h) Faulty signaling system

Now the question is, are these true causes really "true"?


It is because, behind each of the causes mentioned above, there are also other causes that are creating these problems. For examples, for each of the causes mentioned above, the 'Behind the Scene' causes may be:

(a) Absence of public transport system - Due to: Lack of vision and planning; Lack of funds

(b) Absence of underground or monorail - Due to: Lack of vision and planning; Lack of funds

(c) High number of migration to the city - Due to: Widespread poverty in the villages; Lack of economic activity in the villages; Natural disasters like flood, cyclone, etc.

(d) Extortion of public spaces by different groups - Absence of punishment mechanism; Lack of policing; Absence of monitoring mechanism

(e) Absence of proper parking rules - Due to: No planning of parking rules and regulations; Too few streets in the city; Difficulty in enforcing rules

(f) Absence of strict punishment system for violating rules - Due to: High level of corruption; Few number ofpolices on the street

(g) Low number of traffic polices on the street - Due to: Low budget for the police; Lack of Government funds to run the administration

(h) Faulty signaling system - Due to: Lack of proper planning

Now if you think deeper, you will also find 'Deep Behind the Scene' causes of abovementioned 'Behind the Scene' causes. For example, for absence of vision and planning, you will find that the faulty education system, bad recruitment of public servants, absence of proper incentive structure, unstable Government, high level of corruption, etc. are creating the problem of lack of vision and planning. Then if you keep asking why all these "Deep Behind the Scene" causes are being created, you will end up with a long list of "Deeper Behind the Scene" causes of all "Deep Behind the Scene" causes.

So you see, how all these issues, which you never thought of, are affecting you everyday when you are stuck for hours on the street for traffic jam!

So don't stop asking "why".


5. Will my idea address all these causes that I have identified?

Now, you might get afraid thinking that generation of an idea is very complex and tedious task.

Yes, it is.

But if you want to solve a very high level problem, then you might get lost after discovering so many issues that are related to the problem. Therefore, it is wiser to select a node in the middle and start finding a solution of that particular problem.

For example, after getting lost in solving the problem of traffic jam, you might now think to select one "Deeper Behind the Scene" causes, and start thinking what are the underlying causes of this particular problem. Say, you have selected the issue of corruption and start thinking what are the issues involved in it and how can we address the problem of corruption in our society.

Now follow the same steps as mentioned in the beginning, and try to find the answers of "why do we have corruption in our society?"

Then list all the answers in a notepad, and match them with the causes that are outlined in IFD Exclusive Paper 1 and see how those causes have been addressed one by one, and an idea was generated.


6. If my idea misses one of these causes, then how should it be addressed?

Yes, it might happen. Even after years of research and listing all the causes, you might end up proposing a model, which will not solve the problem you are thinking about. If your idea is implemented and then it is observed that your idea is not enough to solve the problem, then it will uncover new issues that need attention from everybody. So more research will be needed to find out why the problem persists even after implementing a grand model.


7. How will my idea be implemented?

In proposing a solution, you have to always think how your proposal will have to be implemented. You have to outline all the steps that are required to implement your proposal and see if there is any barrier to implement the idea. If you find a barrier, then you have to think how this can be removed. In proposing the removal of impediments, you have to keep in mind that such steps should be realistic and should be least expensive. If these are expensive, then you have to answer how this money can be generated.