The Issue of the Dripping Gutter


You, a home owner in a Chicago neighborhood, have a dripping gutter. Your lot size is a typical Chicago 125×25 foot lot. The gutter is along the side of your Shotgun style home. As such the leak drips down onto the walkway between the two houses. In the winter this causes icing of the side walk making it slippery across your and your neighbor’s side walk.


We instinctively believe we understand the issue. The sidewalk becomes icy and we can trip over.

But this is not really the issue. The real issue is what would happen if someone does indeed slip and damage themselves. Now we have law-suits, insurance and hospital bills and possibly disability etc. etc.

So the issue is a combination of factors. Leaky gutter, leading slippery sidewalk, leading to potential danger and potential injury and potential financial and maybe criminal implications.

So our project “Gutter Fix” gains traction. But why? Who cares? Who are the stake holders in this and why would/should they care? The stakeholders are clearly You and Yours, your neighbors and anyone who uses either of the side walks.

What do they care about? Well clearly, not getting hurt, falls pretty high on the list. As does not getting involved in insurance, legal and financial proceedings.

So what is the objective? Typically, when this question is asked, the answer at this point is to get the gutter fixed? No. That’s not the answer.

The objective is to have a happy household and happy neighbors. To attain this goal we need to ensure that neither parties can become injured as a result of using the side walks. That way there will be no hospital visits, medical bills, insurance bills, law-suits or legal proceedings. Everyone is happy.

Rewriting our requirements


To maintain a happy household and happy neighbors it is important to fix the side gutter of the house to prevent injury and thus potential financial penalties and/or legal implications to both ourselves and our neighbors as well other users of the two side walks.


A dripping gutter on the side of the house is dripping onto the walkway beneath. In winter this leads to icing of both this and the neighbors walkway. This presents a potential danger to users of the sidewalk.


The gutter at the side of the house requires fixing to prevent the dripping which is currently occurring when rain falls on the roof.

An analysis of our requirements might begin:

Proposal 1:

We propose to contact with a gutter repair specialist to have the broken section of the gutter removed and replaced with a new section. The new section will be fitted to ensure a good seal with the existing sections.

Now lets consider what might be a potential analysis if the requirements were written without understanding the objective or perhaps even the issue.

Proposal 2:

We propose to fix the gutter using some caulk and cheap labor.

Only knowing the requirement leads us to not fully understand the necessity of the repair. We could probably fix it with caulk, but will it last?

Perhaps another idea?

Proposal 3:

We propose to build a roof over the sidewalk covering our walkway ensuring the gutter does not drip on it.

Once again, we have protected our sidewalk but we may still drip on our neighbor’s if there is no gutter on the sidewalk roof.

When we have the Issue documented we can make more informed decisions as to how to potentially fix the issue.

Another Proposal?

Proposal 4:

Sell the house. Move.

This will clearly remove the issue from our lives. But it might be a little costly and possibly still lead to legal issues for negligence on our side.

Having access to the Objective as well, allows us to make an even better decision.


By fully analyzing the situation and documenting the real reasons WHY we are undertaking this project,  the respondent to the analysis is able to make more informed decisions and respond in a more acceptable fashion.

The Snow Blower.