We love (fast) solutions.
We often focus on solutions, rather than the question(s).
About 43% of the decisions are already made before the process is started*. But the ability to solve problems is at the beginning.
The desire to know the answer before we start could be a huge pitfall; you may end of with solutions with no value, at all.
That’s why we encourage you: fall in love with your problem.
Why do we love solutions?
How come we often mainly focus on solutions, rather than the question(s)?
There are a number of reasons.
One reason is our desire to come to ‘closure’. We want to reach an end, as quickly as possible. As Matthew May says: “We have a natural tendency to ‘satisfice'”.
Another reason is that discovering the issue, the ‘why’ part is fuzzy. And we get uncomfortable with fuzzy. Thinking in terms of solutions suits with our rational and analytical thinking. This ‘what’ part is a lot easier and is therefore often the most clearly in organizations (watch this TED talk by Simon Sinek).
Besides, examining the question (the ‘mystery’) is often omitted within organizations because this work is often seen as costly and not economically viable. They just don’t see why it is important. Owh.
Why should you care?
One of the (big!) pitfalls of focussing on solutions is that you’re creating palliatives. Solutions based on symptoms without effecting a cure. This occurs due to blindness for the real issue and underlying causes; not looking beyond the visible symptoms, not knowing what the real thing is that you’re trying to solve. This focus on fast solutions, based on assumptions, can lead to solutions that don’t solve the problem. (We see this in ICT happening all the time. Technology as a solution. There is a hidden hope that somehow technology will solve all our problems. Sometimes that’s true, but often it is not. The core (the cause) of the problem often lies elsewhere and in that case: ICT will not solve the problem).
Another pitfall of falling in love with a solution is that you lose sight of the people who you are designing it for, and the value that this solution should deliver. Every solution ultimately revolves always around one thing: creating value. To design valuable solutions, it is essential to know what the value is you want to create. And for whom. (We’ll write a separate blog about this!)
Also, a danger related to the focus on fast solutions, is that – if there is an obvious and apparently satisfactory answer – we stop to think and we stop exploring other possibilities. Bummer: you’ll miss out good, better or outstanding other solutions (see our blog about the pitfalls of planning)
Therefore: “Don’t fall in love with a solution, fall in love with a problem”
How to unscrew this system
We believe in acting different.
In stead of the one-way focus on solutions, we believe in an approach in which the understanding of the problem is central. Uncovering the real questions, needs and causes. Investigate what is going on under the visible layers and symptoms. (We have a specific phase in Plan B. It’s called “B Curious”. Discover and uncover.) What matters here is uncovering what is really going; what is the real thing that we’re trying to solve. That means a deep dive into the assumptions that are invisible and unnoticed, but are in fact the real reasons why we are working on something.
Attention to the problem, demand and needs is also directly related to delivering value. It all ultimately revolves always around one thing: creating value.. To design new opportunities, it is essential to know what the values are we want to deliver. This mainly depends on who you design for. You know: people. The ‘people first’ approach is all about solutions that meet (latent) needs and values; that requires ‘value sensitivity’. So, we believe in a focus on the value that a solution should ultimately deliver, rather than starting with a focus on (fast) solutions. (BTW. Value is the ‘stage’ in the middle of the Plan B process. This is the central point of focus, so you fully understand where you are headed, what your goal is and what the value is you want to create and for whom. More blogs about this: coming up!)
So, we believe in digging deeper; move beyond fast solutions and focus on value, demands and needs. With this approach, you’ll develop valuable solutions that actually solve your problems and match all needs. And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Really. (Owh, And when you act this way, it will be a lot easier to show people the value, usefulness and necessity of your solution: because it is designed for them!)
So, let’s fall in love.
First, with the problem. After: with all amazing valuable solutions.
Want to know more?
Check out our magazine
about the Plan B stage: B Curious.
Read what other people say about this.
View my Flipboard Magazine.
* Source: Prof. Carlos Osorio