How solution-driven organizations kill great products and what to do about it.
As UX designer, we have a very unique position in the tech workforce. We are trained to obsess over the root cause of a problem before we can even whisper the word “solution”. However, organizations that hire us only ever want the solutions without all of the effort to dissect what was wrong in the first place.
From C-Level Executives who issue tight deadlines to team members who refuse to collaboratively think about ambiguous problems. Employees are trained to need structured meetings to pay attention. We are all grown ups here, and I would think that by now we would know problems aren’t solvable by 1 or 2 hour structured meetings with defined end-goals and an agenda.
It’s almost like critical thinking has become an optional part of the workplace.
There is very strong evidence and a case to made about why the blind, continual pursuit for solutions doesn’t work — especially for building successful products.
Abby Covert, the author of the book, How to make sense of any mess, briefly points at how businesses struggle with this in this video below
She points out so eloquently that our traditionalists, structured ways of working don’t give enough attention, space or time to properly define what could be very messy, difficult to understand and distill problems. Why? Well it’s hard.
I made a career switch into UX — and I would like to think it was in the pursuit of understanding more, chasing more and solving more — even if it might take time, energy and be frustrating and hard.
Uncovering user needs is a process that takes time and that why building a great product is hard. You can’t expect to listen to a few enhancement request from users, analyze some competitors and be on top! It’s just not going to happen.
But of course what type of article would this be if it didn’t provide *ahem* solutions *ahem* to this problem.
But first, here are some examples.
Examples of Organizations that were amazing at solving the wrong problem
Blackberry continued to improve their physical keyboards because they wanted to focus on business emails. Kodak didn’t recognize their own invention of digital photography as disruptive. Blockbuster turned down a deal with Netflix because they didn’t think customers wanted movies delivered. — Jasper Kroese, nlmtd.com (Why organizations are so good at solving the wrong problems)
How to drive change management within your organization
Now, here is some of what I have learnt while going through the very real struggles of change management toward a more design centered process. I would love to hear what others are doing to drive change in their organizations as well.
1. People are inherently lazy and simply don’t care to do the mental gymnastics required to problem define and problem solve. Spoon feeding is almost required.
2. Individually convincing and intrinsically motivating each team member is mandatory.
3. Team members are always self proclaimed experts and know every end-user affliction, of course. Act accordingly.
4. Don’t even bother with meetings longer than 3 hours and God forbid it’s on a Friday. (no one is attending that because we are in Europe now where 4 day work weeks exist?)
5. Excite! And market the shit out of your meeting invites. This is not your team - it is best you imagine them as Netflix binge watching millennials. As long as it is EXCITING! you will hold their attention.
Bottom line, it's hard. But like any problem solving exercise, hard is worth it.
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