In life what is easier, ‘Identifying and articulating the right problem’ or ‘Finding the right solution’? Most of us feel that the important and difficult part is finding the right solution, but the reality is it’s more tedious yet important to define the right problem. I don’t blame anyone, because this is the way human minds are programmed to work ‘Focus on solution’. However only if we can focus on defining the right problem, finding the right solution becomes much easier. Example: For an obese person, we will say the problem is ‘He is obese’ whereas that’s not the right problem actually, The right problem is ‘Why is he obese?’ Is it due to hormonal issues, is it because of overeating, is it because of sedentary lifestyle’? If we can identify the right root cause via the right problem, finding solution becomes easier. In this case, we can find a solution to decrease obesity more effectively.

Product Management is absolutely similar, it is all about identifying and defining the right problem. Our issue is that we are so overwhelmed with the feature requirements to be build that our backlog is always full of features and ideas. The feature set may be coming from business teams, customer service team, from customers or may be product manager’s own idea. Some of these ideas and features might move the needle in metrics like conversion, customer NPS, traffic and likewise but most of the ideas won’t give the results of expected magnitude. The reason for failure here is that we started on the wrong foot. Let’s take a step back and spend more time on defining the problems. If we can define the real problems not from 100 ft view but to absolute granular level, half the battle is won. Post this what is required is a complete analysis of magnitude: How many customers can we impact by solving this problem? How much traction can we gain by solving this problem? How can we create business value via the solution? If we can identify, define the right problem and quantify to prioritize the problems, we are home. Obviously empowering engineering, design and product teams to solve the above problems creatively is imperative but that will not create a dent if first part of problem definition and analysis is not done properly. Remember “Always identify and define the RIGHT problem to get to the RIGHT solution.”

Written by — Karan Miglani, Board Infinity Coach
Coach Karan is an expert in the field of product management with an experience of 6+ Years in the industry. He is currently working with Expedia Group and has worked with companies like MakeMyTrip, GE and Nearbuy.

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