“If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem… and only five minutes finding the solution.”
– Albert Einstein
Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume you know a little bit about Clearhead. And since you know Clearhead, you may also know that we cherish Problems Worth Solving. The fulcrum of our PSM (Problem Solution Mapping) framework is a set of Problems that are researched and validated with evidence and direct us towards the most critical Solutions (Hypotheses) at any given moment. While it’s not always pleasant to focus on the challenges your organization wishes to overcome, the keyword is focus.
With only so many people hours and dollars available to any company, how are you spending them? Are you working on projects that are never validated by data? Are you testing things that are simple and uncontroversial? Are you wasting time? Are you quickly dabbling? Or are you actually solving real Problems?
By ensuring your entire organization is focused on overcoming the same problems–its biggest problems, the problems that are truly worth solving–you unify your teams around a common mission that is bigger than their silos, pet projects and department titles.
Using PSM, team members at every level of the organization are then more connected to the larger goals of the business and they gain a direct line of sight to the impact their daily work has on the greater business. By design, organizing your entire company around the goals and biggest problems that stop you from achieving those goals creates laser focus from the top down.
It’s a simple concept yet so many business take a wholly opposite approach. They dive into solutions first then determine how they can (or can’t) help the business. This wastes countless hours and dollars, and likely brings you no closer to the revenue goals with which you’ve been tasked.
So…why? What is so seductive about this solutions first approach? If you saw me speak at Opticon in New York last month, this list of reasons that diverts companies’ attention away from the bigger picture will sound familiar. For those of you that weren’t there, I’d like to share with you the ten most common solutions traps we see even the brightest executives fall into.
Top Ten Solutions Traps
1. Table Stakes
“Without this we cannot succeed. We’ve got to do this to even be in the game.”
2. Low Hanging Fruit
“We’ll work on the big problems after we solve these small ones. There are some small things that are obvious no brainers that we can solve in the next few weeks. Let’s start with those first and then address the real conversion rate problems we’re encountering.”
3. Go Responsive
“¾ of our traffic is mobile. The only way we can improve this is to go responsive. Let’s do it.” My cofounder and Clearhead’s Chief Product Officer, Ryan Garner, shared our take on this in his recent blog post.
4. Keeping up with the Jones’
“This company that I admire does this.We’ve gotta do it.”
5. Sexy New SaaS
“This shiny new personalization tool looks amazing. We’ve got some room in the budget. Let’s go try it.”
6. Build First, Then Test (CYA Experiment)
“We’ve already built this tool, but we might as well test it now.”
7. Test It Because We Can
“Our testing tool is so simple and amazing. I can do all of these cool things. Let’s just run some tests because we can.”
8. “It worked for them, so…”
“I read a case study where two companies used this same solution. We should totally do the same thing.”
9. 5 Guaranteed Ways to Improve CVR
“I got an email this morning that guaranteed five ways to improve my mobile conversion rate. Let’s do them all.”
10. Let’s Personalize
“We have the technology to do it. Let’s personalize.”
We’ve worked with some of the world’s leading brands and some of the brightest digital executives you’ve ever met. Yet I’ve seen even the most intelligent leaders fall into some of these very traps.
While it can be tempting to start with solutions before actually defining goals and agreeing on which problems your teams should really be solving, I urge you to rethink this approach.
Still not convinced? Take a look at our Opticon session, titled “Optimize Everything”, for a more in-depth explanation of the impact this can have on your team and your organization.