Problem solving principles
Product practitioners should effectively solve problems. How to approach a problem?
1/ Be specific in defining who has the problem. When building a product, start determining who the target audience is—without it, you'll try to optimize for everyone and end up not optimizing for anyone.
2/ Be clear about what it is before thinking about what to do about it. It's a common mistake to quickly shift from defining what's the problem to proposing a solution for it. Diagnose: Consider the solution after you break the problems down to their first principles.
3/ Separate symptoms and the root causes. The initial observation is often a symptom. You need to keep asking why. Remember, a complex problem have multiple root causes.
4/ Align on the desired outcome before you talk about the solution. There are many ways to approach the problem—each will yield different results. Everyone will argue that their approach is best if they have different goals. What's the desired outcome you seek to make?
5/ Understand the users’s motivation. Suppose you've defined the problem for your users. What's their end goal? What is the job they want to get done? Why is that important? This way, you can get context on whether this problem matters.
6/ Is it a vitamin or painkiller? The problem is not a painkiller if the users can find a decent workaround. If it's only nice to have, why bother to solve it? When the users expressed a pain point, ask them what have they done so far to solve it. If their workaround is frustrating, then perhaps it’s problem worth-solving.
7/ Time is ticking; you can’t spend your whole time in problem discovery. In the real world, we have to dance with a time limitation. It’s helpful in timeboxing the problem discovery; you just have to use the best signal and experiment with a few solutions.
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