Get to the root of the problem.
Understand complexity, and chip away until you arrive at the simplest formulation. Distil the problem by reducing it to its most essential definition – the one reflecting the point of view of who needs the solution.
At this stage, it is also important to define who we are working for
the persona that has the problem.
After all, this is human-centred design.
A problem can be stated in many ways, from many origins and points of view
It is crucial to synthesize all this information and arrive at a sentence that captures its core.
This sentence is the challenge the Design Thinker will have to address. It must explain the need of the persona for whom we are doing the work, but also the underlying reasons that have brought about this need. If anyone needs a roadmap, for example, we have to know why they need it, before we can find a solution.
A good problem definition can be difficult to achieve, but it has many positive effects:
. It provides focus – the clearer and more concise the problem, the stronger and more differentiated the solution.
. It provides inspiration and motivation. Vague definitions disperse thinking and erode team motivation. Clear definitions lead to greater depth in dealing with the problem.
. It clarifies the space where alternative ideas may appear.
. It allows parallel work – several people looking at the same problem can have different paths to the same field of feasible solutions.
. It enables good angles of attack on the problem, each of which results in multiple ideas. A good problem is also the basis for a good solution brainstorming.
. It avoids the fatal temptation of trying to “fix everything for everybody all at once".
Even when the problem seems well defined, it can be reformulated down the way.
The team should not stick to a formulation that turns out to be inadequate, but incorporate the learning gained as the Design Thinking work advances.
Good innovation needs a good problem.