Simply stopping for a moment to think about what the problem we are trying to solve is, and then expressing that problem in a clear and structured way forces us to think, to analyse the current situation, to examine the information we have from user research or data analysis, and then to define what we are trying to address in a way that everybody can understand and is a basis for action.
If we don’t know what the problem we’re trying to solve is, how can we know that we have solved it?
Following this process will make our thinking clearer. It will help us to explain why we propose to act to our stakeholders and our teams. It will undoubtably make our business cases stronger, allowing us to show the data and describe what the world will look like when we have solved the problem. As Simon Sinek describes in his book ‘Start with why‘:
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
Our problem statement is our ‘why’ and our strategy is to follow a user-centred design process, as I described in my blog post ‘Design is the strategy’. Put really simply, our strategy is to get from where we are now (our problem statement) to where we want to be (our vision).
After we’ve defined the problem statement, we can collect hypotheses about how we might solve the problem. We can then follow a user-centred design process to find out which of the hypotheses are correct and which are not.
Next time your team appear hesitant about your ideas of what they should build, think whether you have described effectively why they should build it. They may be simply asking you, what is the problem we’re trying to solve?
Because there’s no point in having the best solution to the wrong problem.