You’re looking at the problem wrong

By: epSos .de

Let’s talk more about problem solving.

The reason that effective problem solving is so difficult, is that we’re trained to focus on the immediate problem instead of looking at the bigger picture.

Let’s take a look at this problem:

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

What most people will say is that the ball costs $0.10.

That would be wrong.

The ball actually costs $0.05 because the bat costs $1.00 MORE than the ball. That means that the bat actually costs $1.05.

Does answering this question with $0.10 make you stupid? No. It means you’ve been trained to jump to conclusions before thinking about what the real problem is. This training saves time, and in a lot of cases, serves us well.

But with business or marketing problems it shoots us in the foot. It hinders our ability to look at the problem critically, and come up with solutions that don’t just patch the problem, but blow it out of the park.

Here’s an example:

A coffee machine company wants to make their machines more convenient and easier to use. They put their team on the task of producing a better coffee machine. Making it easier to use. Maybe the machine even grinds the coffee for you.

It’s more convenient. But is it easier to use? It’s also now more complicated, with more parts to service and more things to go wrong.

A similar company wants to accomplish the same thing. But instead of focusing solely on the immediate problem (the machine), they think about how they can CHANGE the problem altogether.

Instead of making their machine do more things, they look at the outside components that go into the problem… the coffee.

“How do we make coffee more convenient?” instead of “How do we make our machine more convenient?”

The answer, at least for one company, is to pre-package it.

This is exactly what Nespresso did. Instead of over complicating the problem, they looked at other ways of accomplishing the same thing. In turn they created a revolution in home coffee brewing spawning copy after copy.

How this applies to you

Instead of focusing on the immediate cause of your problem, work backwards. What other factors are involved? Can you change something outside of your product that could make your product more special? More remarkable?

Test it. See if it works.


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