Many people who get struck with a good idea are missing out on one very crucial aspect of the idea. There needs to be a problem being solved. If there is no problem being solved then that can make things difficult for you. Yes, there are some products out there that are very successful for being silly and random. But, these products usually never last and it’s a nightmare trying to get these off the ground. The far less risky alternative is to start with a problem and work backwards. Creating a really good product that offers the same solution as another product doesn’t have the same potential as a product that solves a new and unique problem.
How can we train our minds to think problem first? Well the good part is that it is very easy. The hard part is that it takes consistent discipline. You have to train your brain to identify problems when they occur rather than just thinking of them later when you sit down to come up with ideas. Looking through this lens throughout your day will give you the best ideas and the best results.
For me, this was a brand new way of thinking. Early on when I would come up with ideas, I would think about a product very specifically. And most of the time it was a product that wasn’t unique or that it didn’t solve any real problems. The next evolution of my thinking was to think about a product down to its specifications and differentiate the product based off how it looks. This method is better, but the focus is still a bit off. Recently, I’ve adopted this new way of coming up with ideas. And that is putting the problem first. This requires more of an emotional monitor to see what upsets me throughout the day. Chances are if I was upset or frustrated at something, that thing was a problem. And for every problem, there is potential for a solution. Think back throughout your day or week. What frustrated you the most? Or perhaps what gave you even a second of stress? Look at all these issues. Keep in touch with your negative emotional responses. This is where the goods stuff will be identified.
My old school way of thinking was always focused on logic and rationalizing and specifications. Recently I realized that this is not how we buy products. We don’t think about a product rationally and think how can we utilize this and then buy it. No. We may think we do, but we don’t. When we buy something new, we have an emotional response that tells us to buy. Then our rationale kicks in to convince us that we’re making the right decision. If our buying habits are emotional, why don’t we start there when coming up with product ideas? That’s why we need to be problem focused. Every time you get frustrated and angry, even if it’s for a second, chances are there is a solution that you can come up with. Start by writing everything down that gets you even a little angry, frustrated, or annoyed. Chances are if you are having this problem, then more people out there are having that problem. And when you see a product online that offers a solution, you’ll have a positive emotional reaction to seeing that product.
We need to be thinking problem first. The specs, logic, and aesthetics of the product are important, but that will come later. If there is no problem being solved, then there is no product. Have a problem list that you keep in your phone or on paper so that you can easily write down little things that annoy you throughout the day. Then come up with how to solve those problems later on. We need to monitor our emotions for this. This change won’t come immediately. It’s difficult to all of a sudden change the way we look at what we’re doing. It will require discipline and consistent focus. But by doing so, you’ll put yourself in a good position for coming up with great ideas. Stay alert of what’s bothering you today!