Shush…The Ultimate Secret of LOVE THE PROBLEM FIRST
So, you have an idea of a new product or business and you want to make millions…
I bet you are dreaming of that blood-red Ferrari now.
If you have ever thought of setting up a business and appearing on the dragon’s den, then this maybe you.
But, 8 / 10 businesses fail to make product-market fit, which is normally achieved within two years.
Why is this?
The number 1 reason is building something nobody wants, and this goes back to the start of the entrepreneurial journey. Most entrepreneurs start in the wrong place — cherry-picking tactics or laser focusing on outcomes loving their solution.
This introduces the first Continuous Innovation Principle
Love the Problem not the solution
Continuous Innovation principles have changed the approach to designing a new business or product. Simply copying a cluster of tactics will not work.
Principle 1: Love the Problem not the Solution
Alert Einstein quoted
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
So why do entrepreneurs spend time, money and effort building something nobody wants?
Introducing the Innovators Bias
Picture this, you are in the shower and you have a great idea. You decided it’s the best in the world and you leave your job and go into it 100%. But as time goes on you realise an important point.
Customers don’t care about Solutions…They care about their problems
Problems, not solutions create spaces for innovation, and you have forgotten about this.
So, as Ash Maurya, the founder of Leanstack and the creator of the Lean Canvas states
When you start with a solution, it’s like building a key without a door
You end up wasting weeks and weeks knocking on doors, trying to unlock the door with your key. As you can imagine, it wastes endless effort, money and more importantly time.
Even if you start with a smaller solution, unless your solution nails some customer problem, it won’t get noticed.
The story continues…
This is where you get caught in the hamster wheel, trying everything, spending thousands on the latest growth hack and listening to every podcast you can find.
A better alternative is switching stance. When you start with problems before solutions, you first identify the door you want to open. The key building, or solution building, becomes a lot easier after that.
This simple mindset shift: “Love the Problem, Not Your Solution” is a common theme which as a Start-Up coach, is always my starting point when consulting with a client.
What if you’ve already started with a solution?
It isn’t always possible or practical to start with problems and there are many examples of highly successful ideas that started with an invention first.
But, it’s important to make the distinction between invention and innovation and Ash Maurya outlines this below.
Invention versus Innovation
An invention is simply a new technology, method, or process.
Innovation is taking a new invention to market.
Inventions often come before innovations.
Google is a great example of innovation business. Everyone of a certain age seems to think that they invented the search engine. But they released their engine 8 years after the invention was developed and were number 21 in the list of releases.
They don’t invent new stuff all of the time but are very good at taking existing inventions to market to solve customer problems in novel ways, the android operating system is a prime example.
You just need to be aware that to ultimately build what customers want, you need to tackle three aspects as outlined by Ash Maurya (The below was taken from an article by Ash Maurya)
The Innovation Trinity
It helps to constantly view your idea though three lenses, desirability, feasibility, and viability which were first popularized by IDEO, the innovation powerhouse.
For most products, feasibility is not the riskiest. Even when starting with a solution-centric idea, after demonstrating basic feasibility, it’s important to switch focus on desirability (do customers want this?) and then viability (is this a problem worth solving?).
So always focus on what the problem is you are trying to solve, speak to customers and before you waste time, money and effort, design something that meets your customer’s problems head-on.
The ideas in this article were developed and taken from Ash Maurya @ Leanstack and have been adapted to fit my thoughts. If you would like to understand more about developing products as a start-up or within an organisation, follow me on LinkedIn.