In our everyday life, we don’t view problems as opportunities. We aren’t taught to embrace problems. We’re taught that problems are to be avoided. Most people talk about and complain about problems. This is the natural behavior. This makes it difficult for pursuing innovation programs at large.
In the business context, we believe that problems are opportunities. Opportunities to build a venture, hopefully, a profitable one. Problems become the source of innovation expeditions. Problems worth solving are categorized based on the opportunity they present economically. Possible solutions that have scalability in the market are chosen for sponsorship and pursuit. By the time the solution is built, tested and deployed, the relevance of the problem might not exist. That’s the risk every innovation project built around a problem has to manage.
When you are trying to discover opportunities through problem lens, look for a few key aspects – Size, Seasonality, and Solutions in use.
Size and seasonality can be established with questions: Is it a small problem that a lot of people face every day? Is it a big problem that a lot of people are facing for a long period of time? Is it a big problem that only a few people face, once in a while? Is it a small problem only a few people face sometimes? For all answers, find how people are coping with the problem? What solutions are in use? How effective are current solutions – in terms of cost, quality and time attributes?
Finally, find how technology can solve the problem more effectively and efficiently. This will help you find a problem worth solving. If you are addressing critical problems, then time is the core factor you should consider in finding and implementing the solution. Else, problems don’t turn out as opportunities.