Some risks in jumping to solutions, based on a quick guess at the problem include:
- Problem is ill defined
- Problem might not be a significant issue for customers
- Problem might be perceived differently by target customers (you are not always a member of the target customer segment)
- Problem might be superficial and not the real issue
Remember that the problem is not always what it first seems to be. Leo McGinneva described why people buy quarter-inch drill bits: “They don’t want quarter-inch bits. They want quarter-inch holes.” And Charles Revson made a distinction regarding the business of Revlon: “In the factory we make cosmetics. In the store we sell hope.”
Therefore, we need to dig deep to uncover the root cause of the problem.
Painstorming is one approach to understanding the problem as a team:
- Define the target customer segment
- Develop a list of potential problems target customers are facing
- Pick the ideas that seem to be the most frequent, most frustrating problems
- Develop hypotheses about the root causes of the problems
- Test your root cause hypotheses with customers
- Refine the definition of the problems so that they are clear and incorporate the learnings from customers
Once we truly understand the problem, we can brainstorm solutions. This way we will be solving a real, meaningful problem for which customers are craving a solution.