Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Ohio State University Fact Sheet

Understanding the Process


Ruth M. Conone
Donna Brown
Russell Willis

Tackling the problems of youth at risk must involve many people and organizations in communities. Developing coalitions of concerned individuals and groups can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of efforts by combining strengths and resources.

Once the coalition is formed, training in areas such as group dynamics, methods of problem solving, dealing with conflict and controversy, public policy process, issue analysis and working with public officials may be beneficial. One task of a coalition might be to adapt, create or develop public policy.

Clearly, not all problems that affect you are public policy problems. Some may be readily resolved through the problem-solving process. The effectiveness of problem-solving can improve when the method is understood.

The Problem-Solving Method

Define the Problem

Compare how things are now and the way you would like them to be. How long has the problem existed? How frequently does it occur? Who is affected?

Determine the Cause(s)

This involves finding the cause of the gap between the present and the desired state.

Develop Alternative Approaches

List all possible solutions.

Assess the Consequences

Consider possible results of each alternative. Who is affected? Who pays?

Select a Solution

Choose one feasible alternative that is acceptable to the group.

Implement the Chosen Solution

Plan strategies for carrying out the plan. Most of the work is in this step.


Look back to review how things went. What was successful? What went wrong? Why?

These questions guide a coalition or individual through the policy analysis process.

Selecting Issues For Analysis

Feasibility of Analysis

Generic Critical Questions Regarding Policy Analysis

Criteria For Selecting Final Set of Measures Importance

Does the measure provide useful and important information on the program that justifies the difficulties in collecting, analyzing or presenting the data?


Does the measure address the aspect of concern? Can changes in the value of the measure be clearly interpreted as desirable or undesirable? Can the changes be directly attributed to the program?


Does the information provided by the measure duplicate or overlap with information provided by another measure?


Are the likely data sources sufficiently reliable or are there biases, exaggerations, omissions or errors that are likely to make the measure inaccurate or misleading?


Can the data be analyzed in time for the decision?

Privacy and Confidentiality

Are there concerns for privacy or confidentiality that would prevent analyst from obtaining the required information?

Costs of data collection

Can the resource or cost requirements for data collection be met?


Does the final set of measures cover the major aspects of the concern?


Anderson, James E. Public Policy Making. 2d ed. 1979.

Harty, Harry P., Richard E. Winnie and Donald M. Fisk. Practical Program Evaluation For State And Local Governments. 2d ed. 1981.

Harty, Harry P., Louis Blair, Donald Fisk and Wayne Kimmel. Program Analysis For State And Local Government. 1976.

Stebbins, Monine and Inge McNeese. One Step Away. Oregon Family Community Leadership HE-16-2L. 1983.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-6181

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