Why you should gather problems
In our everyday work, we come across problems in all shapes and sizes. Most people merely grumble about this. Few people take matters into their own hands. That’s a shame. After all, problems are opportunities in disguise. You can use them to become more successful.
Most people associate problems with trouble. This, however, does not have to be the case. Problems are nothing more than new (unexpected) situations that cause an undesirable result or prevent the desired result from happening. All of us are constantly confronted with these problematic situations. Yet most people don’t do anything about it.
If you have difficulty with the word ‘problem’, then don’t hesitate to change it into ‘challenge’ or ‘opportunity’. As long as you recognize that there are always troubling situations that need your attention. Whether it’s a small personal frustration, a department-wide issue or an ominous danger threatening the future of your entire organization.
Collect and acknowledge problems
Identifying and acknowledging a (business) problem is the first step in finding a solution. True innovators keep an eye out for everyday issues and turn the most interesting ones into business opportunities.
Make it a habit to collect issues
Keep a list of things that bug you. Gather big and small issues. For example; a new competitor that enters your market, a broken engine, a decline in sales, difficulties recruiting the right people, dissatisfied employees, fast-growing workload, a shortage of staff, a conflict with a supplier, having a hard time onboarding new employees, etc.
Apart from your own obstacles, you can also map out your customer’s frustrations. These customer insights can provide a great resource for new value propositions.
Identify the problems that matter
Once you have discovered a problem, it’s important to explore it more thoroughly. In the end, not every problem is worth solving. Examining a problem offers clarity and helps to see the bigger picture. By defining what the problem is (and isn’t) you get a better understanding of your challenge. This will help you to define the boundaries on where to look for a solution.
Questions for clarification
A simple way to create clarity is to ask questions about the problem. Think of questions such as: What is the problem? Why is this a problem? Who cares about this problem? Who is responsible for this problem? Why does this problem matter NOW? (What’s the urgency?) What do you want to achieve by solving this problem? Why do you want this problem to be solved? What makes this problem important? What happens if you do nothing? What are the consequences if the problem grows bigger? How often does the problem occur? When does the problem occur? Who suffers from this problem? What is stopping you from finding a solution? Which (unsatisfactory) solutions are being applied now? Why are you not satisfied with these existing solutions?
Decide on how to act
After you have identified and explored the problem, it is time to make a decision. How are you going to act?
Does the problem turn out to be really important? Or perhaps even bigger (or more urgent) than expected? Then arrange the resources and start a creative problem-solving journey. Investigate the situation (e.g. by using problem-analysis techniques), define a focus and develop novel solutions by making use of creative thinking techniques.