"Whenever I run into a problem I can't solve, I always make it bigger. I can never solve it by trying to make it smaller, but if I make it big enough I can begin to see the outlines of a solution."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
“I realized that my big problem is made up of smaller ones.”
Mike S., an electronics industry product manager
As you know, how you define a problem or challenge greatly affects your likelihood of developing a workable solution.
Let’s say that you’ve decided that introducing a new product or service would be a good way to grow your business, but you don’t have one defined yet—even in concept. Your problem statement might then be “How to identify and develop a suitable new product.” (Note that this problem statement is positive, action-oriented, and specific enough to act on.)
If you find that you can solve that problem as defined at that level—i.e. you can identify a set of realistic possibilities, and can pick and develop a new product or service with a very good chance of success—great! You can conclude that the level at which you’ve defined the problem is useful and probably very appropriate.
But what if your business is struggling to find a new product or service that you would likely be successful in developing and marketing?
Try redefining the problem at a different level.
Ike: Make the Problem Bigger
One good way to make the problem bigger is to ask a “Why?” question about your initial problem statement.
Why do you want a new product/service? What outcome are you envisioning will result from developing a new product? It’s probably to grow sales and profits. So a bigger problem statement might be: “How to grow sales and profits?” That will allow you to generate other possible ways of achieving growth. On the market side of your business, these might include:
Try it… does looking at a bigger problem give you ideas that could be more attractive than solving the problem that you don’t have a new product?
Mike: Break the Problem Down
Think of what’s involved in developing and launching a successful new product/service. It might take:
Assess which of these steps you’re in good shape on—and which will be stumbling blocks unless you can solve them. If your capabilities are plenty strong on all but one or two elements, then you can redefine the problem as “How to develop a marketing launch plan,” or whichever one it may be.
Assessing Where You Might Need Help
Is it your goal to significantly grow sales and profits, but you see a gap in your market strategy or marketing capabilities? Let’s schedule an exploratory chat. Head over here to schedule a call with me.