Whilst our core product is app design and development, our main day-to-day activity is problem-solving. At the end of the day, the app we build for our customers has been introduced and designed to solve a problem, so essentially problem-solving is our business.
There are several techniques we use to aid this process and Paul, as a BNI member, was pleased to be able to introduce this to his local group recently.
BNI established that they needed to attract more visitors, but how to achieve that?
Initially, BNI were struggling to define the goals; the ones they had were a bit lofty and not realistically achievable. So we went back to basics, what’s a realistic goal and what do we need to do to achieve that?
Breaking a problem down to bitesize chunks can help you to understand what you want to achieve, it can be humanised in terms of language, with no jargon to allow for a collaborative approach and a structured process.
You have a problem you know you need to solve, but you don’t really know how to get from the problem to finding a solution and executing the solution. We help to navigate that path from,
A – B – C.
Our process and methodology are based on the basic principles of design thinking, an age-old design framework, which uses the double diamond. We break things down, look for problems and understand them before progressing into the solution space.
Our discovery session at BNI started with clarifying our vision. Our vision was to be the best business community in Bordon and the surrounding area, so how do we get there?
The discovery workshop lasted roughly an hour and a half, and proved to be really beneficial, a big part of the success and level of collaboration was the brief at the start of the session – we explained how it was going to work, that it was ok to be unsure and most importantly, no idea is a bad idea. Once the introductions were made, we moved onto the process.
1) Define a goal
Everyone wrote their ideas of what the goal should be down onto post-it notes. We find that the physical action of writing the post-it encourages maximum engagement. This activity resulted in 20 goals which we then voted on, in order to democratically come to the consensus of which is the most important.
“We need to be able to consistently invite 4 visitors a month and convert them into members.”
2) Establish the problems
Now that we have our goal, what problems will we face?
This speedboat analogy is a great one to help visualise this. You’re on a speedboat racing towards your goal, but in the water are obstacles that could throw you off course, what do these obstacles look like? These are your problems.
The group identified what they believed to be the problems, so we added another 20-30 post-it notes of potential obstacles. These were then categorised into themes; we had four columns, each column a different theme; that could be marketing, organisational, technical, people... and again, these were voted on to identify the most prevalent ones to overcome.
“The time is perceived as too early for some.”
Now that we know our problem, it’s time to reframe that into a more positive outcome.
The problem is reframed into an opportunity with a rephrase, “how might we...”
For instance, “how might we make it more attractive for visitors to come to BNI at 6.45am?”
Again, the opportunities from the defined problem are added to post-it notes, with another vote to determine the most prevalent.
Once the opportunity has been identified, we come up with ideas of how to act on this.
“How will we...” this could be to overcome objections of the time of day, remove barriers.
The post-it notes get drafted again, but this time we quadrant the ideas, ranking ideas from high to low impact and high to low effort. Anything high impact but low effort is going to be a desirable action.
Once the actions have been determined, collaboratively, you can define a plan to execute the solution.
Over the course of 90 minutes, you’ve...
- Agreed a goal that is clear and achievable
- Understood the problem(s) that is stopping you from achieving that goal
- Defined an opportunity from that problem which helps you to reach your goal
- Generated actions that will help you move towards achieving your goal
Once the plan has been executed and you have a solution, it’s time to test and validate, ensuring you have success criteria to allow measurement and validation. If the success criteria is satisfied, you can move on - to get greater validation for your design - else you kill the idea entirely, pivot to different solutions, or, onto the next problem or opportunity.
Ultimately, this can, and should, tie into your wider business strategy; over the course of a year, you could target x number of problems to resolve – helping you to reach your goal. The benefit of this process, and involving colleagues, customers, suppliers and more, means you can overcome internal thought bias; you won’t know how to tackle a problem unless you fully understand every step. This structured method allows for an understanding of risk, helps to protect any future investment and allows for good decision making ahead of any heavy investment or product development.
If you’d like to arrange your own discovery session, get in touch today.