Fall in Love with the Problem - get over the Solution

We've all been seduced by the awe of a genius and beautyful solution to a problem. As developers and entrepreneurs we just love new technology and simple solutions, and we often jump right into the beauty of the solution with little to no consideration about the problem you're actually supposed to solve.

Don't let the solution drive you forward. If you're motivated by the solution, what will happen when someone makes your solution obsolete? Because that happens all the time - if you base everything on the solution you have nothing when someone renders it obsolete.

Getting into the problem and finding your passtion there is a much better way, and if you focus on things that doesn't change an awful lot you have something real for the rest of your life.

If you start with the solution and go from there, it is also very likely that the solution already exists.

Look at Square's credit card reader, and count how many has replicated it. That's because the solution triggered people to copy, merely because they were turned on by the solution, and not the problem. They didn’t take a deeper look either, since no one has improved on what Square already had done. They just tried to get customers by lowering the price - even Amazon got fooled by this.

And what is happening right now? Apple Pay just changed the game, and Square is becoming obsolete. I'm not saying they're not passionate about solving the problem, they just but most of their stake on one game and it's turning out to be more than difficult to win.

It isn't safe to assume that the solution solves the problem entirely. It might solve parts of it, but not everything.

Using Square as an example again: They might put too much emphasis on the solution (the credit card reader) and stop there - e.g. they don’t have inventory management in their Register app. This is a hard problem to solve in retail, but they stayed out of it because they relied on their solution disrupting everything and inventory management didn't matter to them.

Putting all your eggs in the solution basket will also keep you endlessly exposed to envyness of competitors. They're constantly going to come up with new stuff and every time you'll envy them, just as you did when the solution they originally invented made you copy them.

Des Traynor of Intercom.io has a great talk about product management that you can also read on their blog, about how your competitors often dread the very features you envy and wants to get rid of them. Because some of their features were added for the very same reason - they thought the solution was amazing and it was so tempting to just add.

Martin H. Normark

Product and UX Hacker. Web and iOS developer.

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