Do you know what problems you’re solving? Honestly though. Whatever project you’re working on right now, can you articulate how that project or design is solving a problem? If you can’t, then you should hit pause on everything and spend some time identifying the problem.
I see this too many times, myself included sometimes, jumping right to working on a solution. Solutions are fun because they require brainstorming, ideation, and designing … but if you are designing a solution without identifying the problem, it’s like writing an essay without a thesis. Imagine writing an essay without a thesis; you’d waste a ton of time writing sentence after sentence, re-organizing paragraphs, and you’d probably end up with a very unfocused piece of writing.
It’s the same for designing products. Without a solid understanding of the problem you’re solving, you’ll spend far too much time exploring ideas that although interesting, may not be solving the problem at hand.
Do you find yourself or your team getting stuck in the weeds? Are you spending more time or money than you’d planned to spend on your design phase? It’s possible that maybe you haven’t defined the problem enough. And as a result, you’re kind of throwing solutions at the wall, hoping they stick.
It might sound silly, but I find it helpful to actually write out the problem you’re solving and the people who have that problem. Now this doesn’t have to take on the form of elaborate personas. But, it does help to write this down because it serves as a reference point, a thesis, for you and your team. Put it on a wall. Put it on a sticky note on your monitor. It sounds cheesy – but giving the people and problem that prominence and visibility in your office and workspace will force you to always be thinking about them and not allowing yourself to get carried away by a solution.