One of the most common reason startups or businesses fail has been largely attributed to building a product, service or feature nobody really wants. If you haven’t experienced this at least once as an entrepreneur, then it might mean that you are either overly cautious thereby failing to take enough risk that might lead to a breakthrough product or you have simply honed in on how to creatively solve a problem – the essence of this article.
Startup failures have been verbally addressed several times by many experienced and successful entrepreneurs and authors. Various approaches have been suggested to help reduce the startup’s failure rate, especially one that stems from building unwanted products. Citing one of those successful entrepreneurs and authors is Eric Ries who suggested a popular model – the build, measure, learn cycle, which to a large extent has addressed this problem and proven to help different startups around the world. But many startups still fail and as confirmed again by this author on Forbes.com, 42 out of 90% that failed attributed their problem to “lack of market need for their product or service”. So are they failing to apply these principles appropriately or they don’t apply it at all and just do it their own way?
Despite all of the huge resources available today, physical coaching, Internet, incubation, entrepreneurship and mentorship programs, one would think that this problem won’t be that much of a serious pain in the neck. But it still is and from personal experience, I discovered that it is largely due to the failure to ask the right questions throughout a product/or service lifecycle. Creative problem solving involves just exactly that – asking the right questions.
- You creatively solve a problem with a product or service when it successfully eliminates a customer’s pain point or challenge and achieving that isn’t like a walk in the park.
We humans are complex beings with complex thoughts and with the power of choice. With the rate of inventions and innovations available today, it seems the only problems left are complex, with consumers being increasingly spoilt with options. To find and solve one of those complex problems creatively, the habit of questioning everything has to become a second nature.
- Don’t underestimate the power of field research where you physically engage with target customers to ask questions. That is where the juice is and to extract it, you have got to be willing to question the right people continuously, even after your product is a success.
As an entrepreneur, you need to question your readiness for the uncertain journey ahead, continuously check in with your belief system and how that is affecting the problem you are setting out to solve. Ask questions about an idea, a prototype or a full product non-stop and always refine your idea/product or service based on the consumer insights gathered. Challenge assumptions, histories, structures, systems and processes because these are where innovative ideas capable of solving many complex problems can be unlocked. The solution to a complex problem is never complex, but simple, and only the right questions can help you unlock it. I guess that was why Albert Einstein said “the most important thing is not to stop questioning, curiosity has it’s own reason for existence.”
Below is a chart on sample areas and questions to explore for creative problem solving. Also kindly share your comments in the section below.
Image credit: adeyemiadelekan.com
To read more on how to ask the right questions and on the types of questions you should be asking, check out the articles below: