It’s not always the problem you think it is…

We all work hard at what we do. Whether we’re problem solvers, businesses owners, designers, communicators, we all have problems to solve. Recently I’ve been exploring the world of Design Thinking (thanks to a great course found on EDx) and have learnt a few things about understanding the problem before making the move to fix it.

Assume nothing, empathise, and research, research, research

When faced with a problem, many of us (me included) look to the obvious solution. But, why not delve a little deeper into the root cause of the issue to truly understand and help form your decision. To deep dive into the root cause we need to ask a few difficult questions to truly understand and empathise with the people that you serve… yes that’s right in everything we do, we are generally serving an other human – the customer service role didn’t end when you stopped working on the till or serving those drinks 😉

Each and every one of us, whether running our own businesses or working within one have a range of humans (all with needs and emotions) that we serve. So why come up with a solution to better serve them, without actually taking time and effort to truly understand and empathise with their problem? Why not take a little time to understand and empathise with their need and create a solution that works for them?

It’s not just in product development that we can use this idea either!

As a Marketeer, I know the importance of personas to help me share a message in an accessible, exciting and tantalising way. Targeting the right stakeholder at the right time and in the right way isn’t rocket science… but it does take time and energy. When you can empathise with the customer, really understand their persona, you can communicate with them more easily. Once we have a way to understand people and their personas, can’t we bring this in to work elsewhere? Why does this still remain in the airy fairy world of the marketeer or designer? Surely empathy is an important trait for all of us working as part of a team?

Reading more around the subject of Design Thinking and empathising the problem I stumbled across this open and honest article on Medium. The writer, Jonathon Ely was struggling to understand his failure and when sharing the back story of his quest writes:

Simply put, I sucked at identifying what the people who worked underneath me were struggling with on a daily basisI didn’t understand the problems my coworkers were facing. I couldn’t do my job because I didn’t know what things needed to be done.

Isn’t it time to really understand the problem not only to create business improvements but to ensure a better experience for us all?

As Jonathon says, “I couldn’t do my job because I didn’t know what things needed to be done.” By understanding his colleagues, Jonathon was able to deliver improvements via a solution based approach and we can only do this once we truly understand the problem.