If you’ve worked with us before it is highly likely you’ve seen this quote. This is because we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to truly figure out the problem before you begin any attempt to solve. When we help our clients tackle challenges, we leverage our Lean Growth Playbook and apply a Define the Problem, Explore the Possibilities, and Build, Test, Learn the Solutions arc.
We’ve found that many teams experience a few problems related to the Define phase:
Teams aren’t successful when they are in these two scenarios because they’re executing without a clear actionable mission and goal in mind. Ideas or solutions built without a foundational, entrepreneurial, and actionable Define phase face pitfalls of being irrelevant to the consumer, incremental instead of disruptive, or simply not strategic for the brand, product, or company. Define provides guardrails for what’s in-scope and out-of-scope, and clear constraints to embrace when diverging in the Explore phase.
We frequently leverage Jobs to be Done as a critical piece of Defining the Problem (we discuss Jobs to Be Done in-depth here and here), but it’s one tool in the toolbox of building a holistic context that the business challenge fits within.
Each challenge requires a customized look at the existing assets and data that will paint an informed look at the context. A learning plan for the Define the Problem phase can provide helpful guardrails and focus. Otherwise, it’s easy to spend forever in the Define phase – so, Define with hustle and urgency that moves to action. To quickly establish context, it is critical that your learning plan drives understanding of each of these three things below:
1. Competitor Understanding in Category and Adjacencies
2. Consumer and Customer understanding
3. Regulatory context
The breadth of context and a holistic picture of the Problem allows teams to be inspired and strategically guard-railed in the Explore the Solutions Phase, then in the Build, Test, Learn Phase, this context allows teams to make informed, quick pivots. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that jumping right into Solutions will be quicker. It might be in the short-term, but if your team quickly builds something that nobody wants, it’s a loss anyway.