March 23, 2020

Pin down that Problem!

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The coronavirus is all over the news, and we all feel it’s impact. For many of us, working remotely has become the new normal in just a few days time.

And so we’ve been bombarded with tips and tricks on how to make this work, and tools to help us make the transition. A small selection:

  • audio & video calling tools
  • chat and messaging platforms
  • collaboration tools: documents, presentations, wikis, …
  • shared note taking tools
  • file sharing tools
  • quiz and polling tools for better engagement
  • online project planning software, task management tools and to do lists
  • online whiteboards
  • video creation tools for knowledge sharing
  • time zone management tools
  • employee happiness meters
  • peer recognition / reward platforms
  • virtual reality / augmented reality systems

The list of remote working and virtual collaboration tools is loooooong :).

It’s great to have choices, and sources of inspiration to improve your collaboration. What this list also shows is that when you are on the other side, the innovator’s side, you probably have a lot of competition. How do you ensure that you have a chance of creating something successful?

It all starts with a clear view on the problem. What problem currently exists that does not have a good solution yet? Who are the people experiencing that problem, and what drives them to have it solved?

For example: when collaborating on a document, creating an overview of the different topics the document must address is a different problem than ensuring quality (correctness, completeness). A collaborative brainstorm session with participants seeing and editing the same list of topics in real time can be an efficient approach to creating a table of contents. Offline reviews on a shared document, on the other hand, may be very effective for quality reviews, as people can pick a time where they can focus on the review work to be done.

Depending on the problem, the solution will look very different!

Some questions to get you started:

  • What’s the customer’s job-to-be-done? What’s his specific problem (rather than a generic need)?
  • When and where does the problem occur?
  • What is the customer doing when the problem occurs?
  • Who is with the customer?
  • What other problems occur in this context?
  • Is the customer having fun, or does he want to get it done?
  • Other thoughts, feelings, actions, words the customer has or uses?
  • What drives the customer to want a solution for his/her problem?
  • What drives the customer’s behaviour when he/she’s in the problem context?

Understanding your target audience, their real problem, and why existing solutions don’t fully solve it, is a great place to start innovating.

Want to get started and experience how to go about it? Check out my Innovation Canvas and the Babel Journey.


Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash

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