Bottom line: Entering a discussion with a solution already in mind is usually a recipe for a bad decision, because it’s a discussion that’s artificially constrained and focused on one solution, not needs.
That’s how we end up with Solution$ Graveyards and cascading unforeseen consequences.
Keep in mind Each of the five steps uses a different mindset to clarify the problem and push your thinking to better solutions.
The key is not to mix them up and keep focus during each step.
Here is example of someone presenting their solution as the need: “My department is drowning! ” Let’s dive deeper into this one and try to distinguish between needs and solutions: A crucial question to help drill down during the needs discovery discussion (Step 1) is to continually ask yourself and/or your team members(s) who might be prematurely fixated on a solution is, “And what would having the [widget/five extra people] do for you?
” Keep asking until the discussion moves away from the solution to the root cause, or the need.Identify miscommunications and unexpected complications early – before they create drama and further setbacks.Choose one “Lego Master” from each team – only this person can look at the team’s structure.Talk to different stakeholders and get as much information as possible.If you wait until the end to gather information from stakeholders, you might need to start over. You will run into new questions, most likely about details and dependencies.When you have a good understanding write the problem down in your own words. Look at the competitive space and adjacent solutions. Write, sketch, draw, whatever makes your thoughts tangible. As when you jump, there is nothing else that matters now. Focus on the aspects that differentiate your concept. Look at your problems from various angles and provide different answers. Once you are finished go back and find answers for your questions, either internal or external. Take a step back and reflect on your potential solutions. This stage will help you to check if you understand how the problem relates to others, like the business, users, and teams involved in the process. Pick the top solutions, which solve your problem the best. You should have most of the critical talking points ready due to the evaluative stage.Most of the time somebody else in the industry or from another sector attempted to address the same problem. When you have a good understanding look back at the problem, you formulated during the last stage and adjust it as you need. Go for quantity and create at least 20 different concepts. Compare your concepts against your identified problem. Put yourself into the shoes of different stakeholders. As in every stage before, if you don’t feel confident to answer those questions, you will need to go and find out. Put them together into a compelling story that will resonate with your audience.It is a simple 5 step approach, but each step comes with a distinct mindset.I look at it like jumping from a diving tower for the first time. Consolidate your thoughts and ask further questions.Several years ago, the place I worked rolled out a brand new, incredibly expensive (so expensive it made me faint to think about it) portable handheld data entry system for physicians and nurses to use for charting at the bedside. And actually, at the time we’d have called the most commonly available types of such devices i Pads, as well. You can probably think of quite a few examples ripped from your own life when something you bought, either for home or for work, didn’t quite deliver all the features, benefits, unicorns, rainbows, and chocolate rivers it was supposed to.But those weren’t the solution the big bosses selected. And that’s very likely because the decision to purchase—no matter the size of the price tag—started with the solution, not the need. If I could show you a way to fix this, how interested would you be in solving this problem? Did you see the solution slip in before the needs were fully defined?