Solutions looking for problems

This article has an interesting matrix comparing a user’s desire to complete a task, to the level of complexity required to complete it. The idea is to design services using effective intelligence. The context:

Start-ups often experience a shock when they emerge from the hothouse of heads-down development. Their intended customers barely have time to listen to their idea, let alone devote time to explore its features. The contrast between a small group of friends working intensely together on a single project with the varied needs and limited free time of their customers can be a disheartening experience.

Projects often fail not because the idea is bad, but because the value their service will provide is not easily understood. The question I ask my team is “What problem, from the user’s point of view, are you solving?” It has to be a problem the user knows they have. If the problem is not obvious to the user, in terms they understand, the solution doesn’t matter. Focusing on the problem keeps a project from drifting into fantasy requirements: solutions looking for a problem.

‘Solutions looking for a problem’ – this is what every single one of us, and especially agencies, should avoid proffering. God knows there’s enough rubbish online already.