Is the Problem Real After All

Last weekend, again I supported Perth Startup Weekend by offering my services as a mentor.

For those not familiar with the event it’s basically a pressure cooker weekend where teams take a hypothetical problem, solve it and produce a viable startup business as a result.   Well that’s the ideal outcome.

Interestingly you would think it this age where UX design principles and agile are commonplace that there would not be many teams getting it wrong or making mistakes with the process.

Well sadly that’s not the case.   The more shocking thing is I see this in a lot of projects all the time.

Rushing to the Technology

Overwhelmingly one thing iwas done wrong – they rushed to the development and started immediately designing a solution.

I have a phrase for this – “rushing to the shiny”.

Also most people from the first moment started to think about the technology they would use for the solution.  Maybe the solution doesn’t need technology.

This rushing to the technology has a good number of issues with it.  Sadly most will not become apparent till a little later, after resources have been wasted and the project fails.

How do you avoid this?  Well it’s really simple: Stop!

  1. Work out what the real problem is you want to solve; then work backwards to the core issue that started it all.
  2. Pick a point on this problem curve that you can solve realistically.  Don’t’ try and fix a massive behavioural socialistic issue, as you are going to need a while to do that.
  3. Work out the audience that has this issue.
  4. Go talk to the audience, face to face if you can, see if the problem is real.  It may not be.
  5. Brainstorm several hypothetical solutions to the problem; build the final outcomes for the solutions.
  6. Go test them or talk to people about the process and solutions.  Note there are several directions here, they may not be technical.
  7. Build or work on a service based solution for the one that tested well.
  8. Go back and test with the audience again.

Talk to People

See the common theme – talk to people.  Go talk to the audience, engage, collaborate and test with your audience.   Your audience may even tell you of issues that are of a greater concern if you are lucky.

Don’t assume anything.

You may think you know what they want; you may think you have results that confirm your hypothetical solutions or even the problem itself.

How do you know it’s not just a little confirmation bias raising its ugly head, making you see patterns or agreement that isn’t there?

 Learn from Mistakes

The main thing I have seen that derails any project all the time, is the failure to go talk to the right audience or kill off a bad solution and flip it to an alternative when needed.

We are just forgetting to admit our mistakes and learn from them.  Remember design is messy; to make perfection you have to break a few things finding that perfection.