We’ve all done it before. We thought we knew the problem and organised a large team to solve the issue, only to work out half way that what we thought was a problem, well, in fact wasn’t. Or it wasn’t the most pressing one.
“In order to find solutions fast you need to identify the right problem first.”
It can be quite tempting to start running design sprints. Getting to an outcome fast is incredibly compelling and getting access to senior staff to contribute can be tricky. However, in order to run design sprints effectively (or any other type of lean project) it’s absolutely crucial to ensure you are solving the right problem. Only then can you select the right team to solve it and set aside time to do so.
The other problems are deeply engrained biases. If you want to get stakeholder buy-in (and who doesn’t?) it’s important to involve them at the right time in the right way.
Problem solving workshops are amazing at aligning everyone’s agenda and focus attention on the crux of the problem.
We find that running a problem solving workshop with key stakeholders first is the best and fastest way to agree on a priority list of problems to solve. Prepare yourself for a truly intensive but rewarding day – despite not solving much, yet. But we’ll come to that.
In a problem solving workshop you invite senior stakeholders to help you define your most important problems that need solving. Time and time again we’ve watched senior stakeholders get lost in a design sprint. It’s usually senior stakeholders who are great at strategy, but are often removed from the day-to-day delivery of work or projects. But put them in a problem solving workshop and they come in to their own. Problem solving workshops are incredibly good at distilling key business issues and are helping to focus energy on what’s important.
Like every intensive workshop they require great preparation by the facilitator but a lot of the content is created by the participants.
Each part of the day is carefully planned as a series of hands-on exercises that help avoid falling for the usual biases and help participants to focus on outcomes and align agendas. The exact exercises should be tailored to the business.
By the end of the day you should have at least one great problem statement to focus on. And by good we mean your problem statement explains:
Now that you have a clear set of problems to solve and a good idea of what needs to happen it’s time to decide the best way to solve the problem. You could run a design sprint or assemble a lean UX team or you might decide to conduct more customer research first. So, although the problem solving statement doesn’t give you a solution you will have a clear idea of what needs to happen next and who you need to involve. Check mate.