One thing the iQnite case competition on climate change has taught me is that there is a big difference between talking a problem up and the ability or desire to do anything about it.
While we often hear and see young people on the street protesting against climate sinners and calling for action NOW!, I look at the submissions we got for iQnite and the outreach I tried to do to create interest in participating and helping solve some of the real issues. And I see that there are none – ZERO – participants from this group of very activist young people.
Those who did signup were by and large a bit older, had some relevant experience in their belts and – for that reason – had some pretty specific ideas on where they could apply their experience to affect change. And I have come to think that maybe that is just how it is; that the foundation for creating the change and impact needed is that you actually know something and have identified areas, where impact could be created and not just have the ability to protest (eventhough those protests are certainly very valid).
The other day I spent a good chunk of the day browsing the web reading up on reviews on how current solutions address a particular problem we are looking at giving a new spin on at inQvation Studio. It was most illuminating.
Of course there is always the risk of you being biased by the idea(s) already in your head, when you do something like that. But no matter what getting insigths into what is already out there and why it’s (not) working is absolutely essential for early and very simple validation.
So, the next time you think about an idea and whether it has the potential to make a dent, start by going online and read up on those that went before you. Chances are that customers reviews, anecdotes and so forth will provide you with a much better starting point that anything you can dream up in that creative mind of yours all in your own. It’s real out there.
One of the things that continues to amaze me is the power of actually seeking out potential customers for solving a problem and chat to them about their experiences so far in both experiencing the problem and trying to find solutions for it.
It is easy to get an idea all by yourself. But the idea – or better yet; the theme in which your idea resides – gets so much extra power by actually meeting and listening to the real experts: Those experiencing the problem.
The exercise itself is really simple: Figure out who you need to meet, set up some meetings or chats for coffee etc, show up, ask a few questions and LISTEN. I guarantee you will leave much smarter. And you will be able to channel all that insight directly into whatever it is that you’re doing, if you choose to. And yes; you should.
When you’re looking to solve a problem and improve something for someone, empathy matters. You need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, feel their pain and use the insight generated to fuel your product development efforts.
When we fail to employ empathy and other soft skills like it, we may get to fabulous solutions but we run short of understanding the problem. Solving a problem. And when we do that, the odds for success are very much stacked against us.
So treasure your soft skills. And if you don’t feel you have too many of them yourself, treasure the ones in your team who do. Because you need them in order to be successful in a truly outstanding way.
When you start looking at problems in the world, one of the interesting indicators of a problem is to look at the number of people trying to solve problems within a sector outside of the established system.
Personally, I find it mindblowing to read that a survey done across a number of countries from 2010-2015 documented that more than a million people where involved in seeking solutions to their own medical needs. Essentially patients doing the work of doctors or the healthcare industry.
I am sure the healthcare sector is not the only one where this is the case, so the big idea here is: Instead of insisting on having all the answers yourself, look at how many people – preferably customers – are looking towards fixing the issues, they have. The more they are trying, the bigger the pain. The bigger the pain, the bigger the opportunity.