In an environment where everyone is building solutions, it’s evil to focus on the problem.
It’s a lot of fun to dream up all the things we can do and how they will work. With that excitement, do we sometimes forget what we are actually trying to solve?
When you are passionate about dreaming up solutions, problems aren’t sexy. However, elegant solutions can come from a deep understanding of the problematic area.
Steven Jobs, the man who brought us Macs, Ipods and Iphones, focuses on the root of the problem; it’s the source of his inspiration:
"When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple with all these simple solutions, you don’t really understand the complexity of the problem. And your solutions are way too oversimplified, and they don’t work. Then you get into the problem, and you see it’s really complicated. And you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That’s sort of the middle, and that’s where most people stop, and the solutions tend to work for a while. But the really great person will keep on going and find the key, underlying principle of the problem. And come up with a beautiful elegant solution that works"
Steve Jobs in Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything (1994) by Steven Levy.
Finding that “key underlying principle” is the essence of marketing. We all do marketing, ‘way before we start dreaming up solutions.
Marketing professionals don’t market the solution, they “market” problems. We can’t sell a SOLUTION if customers themselves don’t believe they have a problem.
Marketers may be “evil” but THEY don’t create problems; they just make people understand them!
Something extraordinary happens when you focus on the problem — you end up focusing on your CUSTOMER.
It’s no longer about YOU and your solution, but about THEM and their pain.
Whenever it becomes more about them than you, YOU WIN.