Following nicely from my post last week, What is your problem?, the latest DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast has a great discussion about creating great solutions to problems. You need to define the problem well! How a Facebook Designer Thinks
Julie Zhuo, vice president of product design at Facebook, describes how the development of new features starts with three questions: What people problem are we solving? How do we know it’s a real problem? And how will we know if we’ve solved it? Zhuo explains how answering those fundamental questions at the outset reveals the most urgent problems to tackle — and yields features that truly enhance user satisfaction.
The podcast takes the listener through more detail behind each of these questions.
What is the people problem we are solving? I particularly like her emphasis in this question on the people part of this question. Don't define the problem in technical terms (or in terms of a missing solution), but describe the situation people find themselves in. What are they trying to do? What workarounds have they developed? Why are they doing this?
How do we know it's a real problem? This looks at justifying the effort spent in solving the problem. Do we have evidence that the problem exists in reality? What are the hard numbers or other evidence? What other consequences of this problem should we see? Do they exist? Do other organizations / businesses / platforms have a similar issue? This is also checking to make sure it isn't a potential problem that people expect might happen, but isn't happening now. (It might be an interesting exercise to understand when such a problem might occur and create preventative soluitons, if it is big enough.)
How will we know if we’ve solved it? If the problem is solved, what would we see that shows we've moved in the right direction? What future evidence would we expect to find / measure? While Julie Zhou didn't use these words, this is looking for What Good Looks Like - one of the ideas I use when looking for good solutions.