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Loving your Products 💗 Fall in Love With the Problem, Not the Solution




In the ambitious world of entrepreneurship, passion is the wind in the sails. But there's a subtle art to manage this fervor, a delicate balance between believing in your product, and stubbornly taking your company to bankruptcy. 


The Sweet Missteps of New Coke


In 1985 Coca-Cola decided to take a leap into the unknown by introducing New Coke, a sweeter revamp of the classic formula. It's a tale that has since become a fable of marketing misadventure. Why? Because Coca-Cola made an assumption: They believed that taste was the sole battleground. They blind tested it, gathered focus groups, they were so confident of the new taste they planned to stop the original. But taste wasn't the only battleground. People cherished the original Coca-Cola not only for its flavor but also for its nostalgia, its identity. Coca-Cola functioned effectively as a solution but misunderstood the problem entirely. They later learnt from this experience and in 2018, diet coke, overtook the original flavor in sales (https://www.marketingweek.com/diet-coke-sales-overtake-classic-coca-cola/)  


Defining Value through Solving Needs


What does it mean to define the problem in terms of product design? Simply put, it's recognizing the true needs, pains, and desires of your customers. It's the abyss between the current, perhaps underwhelming reality, and what could drastically improve it: a behavior. It's about moving past features and functions to the core of the experience, asking: what action generates value and when they notice it?


The Siren Call of Solutions: Why Falling for Features Blinds you


It's all too easy for entrepreneurs  to be swept off their feet by the charm of a sleek solution. The rush of designing something new and ingenious can overshadow the fundamental reason for the product's existence—to solve a specific issue. However, when we're fixated on a preconceived solution, we risk missing out on exploring alternatives that could be more practical, cost-effective, or impactful.


Let's clarify that with an example: Imagine a tool designed for opening cans. Sure, a Swiss Army knife can do the job, among its myriad other functions. But sometimes, what the user needs isn't another multi-tool; rather, a simple, sturdy can opener that gets the job right, every time, without fuss. The value isn't in the tool's versatility, but in its ability to solve the problem reliably.


The Matchmaking App that Broke the Mold


The story of the matchmaking app crafted by a religious community brings this idea to life brilliantly. They started by thinking how they should swipe left or right, but then we helped them define the problem. By not chasing after existing app trends, they questioned the real issues they wanted to solve for their users. They dipped into their own pool of tradition, custom, and belief to model an app that resonated deeply with their unique user base. This careful blend of innovation with tradition resulted in a product that soared beyond a mere solution—it was a solution deeply intertwined with the problem it aimed to solve.


Dodging the Ego Trap: Confirmation Bias Beware!


Locking our sights on just the solution can land us smack in the middle of what's called the ego trap. This is when our pride gets all wrapped up in our solution—like claiming our hammer is the only tool you'll ever need. We start hunting for any little sign that says, "Hey, your design rocks!" That's confirmation bias in action. We ignore anything that doesn't fit with our shiny picture.


But here's the kicker: when we make it our mission to solve the problem, no matter how we do it, the trap door to our ego stays shut. We swap out the love for our smart solution for some respect for the big, bad problem we're out there to beat. It's less about high-fiving our own genius and more about being detectives on the lookout for real change.


This switch means we won't get blindsided by our own idea of "awesome." We'll keep our eyes on the prize—making something that genuinely makes stuff better for people. No more playing favorites with the ideas that make us look good. Instead, we'll collect all the clues—good and bad—to create something really special. It's not just about dodging biased thinking; it's about making something that stands out and stands up for users everywhere.


Adopting Behavioral Design Models for Clarity


After trying several methodologies I decided to create my own antidote to such stumbling blocks, it's called the  Behavioral Design Models (BDMs). BDMs serve as a compass to help you unveil both the needs to be solved and the behaviors that make value explicit. This framework of setting up your product helps you ask the right questions. I have refined this methodology through years while applying in all kinds of problems: I guarantee you, it works.


Through the lens of BDMs, a group of experts and stakeholders start to dissect the issue, discussing user motivations, environmental factors, barriers, and the intended behavioral outcomes. It's not just about building a functional tool anymore. It's about sculpting a key that fits perfectly into the locks of users' needs.





Measuring and Iterating


Only by measuring the right things can we ensure that our iterations hit the mark. Whether it's user engagement metrics, customer satisfaction scores, or simply the reduction of pain points, the metrics must tie back to the problem we're solving. Each iteration is a fresh attempt—an informed and educated guess—but still a guess until validated by reality. Through these iterations, the problem is redefined and refined, sharpening the solution into something more accurate.


This measured approach fosters collaboration and unity among teams. It redirects discussions from "Does this feature works?" to "Does this feature nails our core problem?" And with decision-makers involved—all sharing a love for the problem—a sense of camaraderie and common purpose blossoms, driving the product's journey forward.


Conclusion


Every iconic product, from the wheel to the smartphone, began not just as a solution, but as a passionate response to a problem. Loving the problem means embracing it in all its complexity, dedicating time to understanding it, and measuring impact and success against it. 



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