Feel the problem

When you’re trying to solve a problem for someone, it helps a lot if you can empathize – even feel – the problem yourself.

Because it’s when you have a real sense of the problem, you release all those creative juices that allows you to not only look at the problem from different angles but also come up with ideas for how to try out different solutions in easy, creative and quick ways.

On the other hand, when you don’t feel the problem, it can be hard to not over-strategize and overcomplicate how you go about trying to solve it.

It just doesn’t feel natural to you, and when you’re stuck creatively, your only fallback option is the complex process, you bank on to see you well through to the other side.

When you do feel the problem, what you need to do next becomes more natural to you. You have an easier time setting the necessary wheels in motion, getting people onboard to help you and in general just get s*** done.

So make sure you can feel the problem before anything else. It will make the road ahead so much easier.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Solving pay-day-loans?

Pay day loans are one of the greatest scurges of modern day finance; overcharging poor people for access to quick and often necessary capital to get by from day-to-day.

But is earnings-on-demand – live access to your pay irrespective of the monthly pay day at the end of the month – really the answer?

While I fully appreciate that it may be a more ethical solution with far less interest rates (bordering free?), I still don’t think it solves the problem:

Too many people are either (1) living way beyond their means or (2) in a position where they due to little fault of their own have more expenses than income.

In that situation giving people early access to their money is only going to make the issue worse longer term.

Why?

If you need 10% of your salary now rather than later, you will get 10% less at the end of the month. Then for the next month you will be 10% short + the 10% less you had going in because of the early advance. And so on and so on.

I understand this is a very strict interpretation of the idea behind earnings-on-demand, and that variations may apply. But I still think the underlying argument holds true:

That providing short term relief to people with a long term, systemic problem is no long term solution at all.

In that context what also bothers me a bit is the investor interest in this space. Because investors only flock if they think there is money to be made. And at who’s expense is this going to be?

Basically people who have little ability to pay to begin with. Does that really sound and feel right?

I am not so sure.

I think there are other things we need to get into play in order to solve the systemic issue.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Igniting change

When you try to affect change and solve a problem in a new way, you need them to be ready to give up how they have done things in the past. Or get them interested in forming a new habit.

For some things it’s easier than with others. If you’re just presenting a more efficient solution – aka a faster way of getting from A to B – it’s (all other things being equal) easier to facilitate this change than if you’re trying to create improvement for people, who have been used to ‘nothing’ being the norm before.

Turning those around is tantamount to start setting expectations in a space where none may currently exist. It is like going from 0 to something and foster some kind of accelleration from a point of standing completely still.

You may very well only get one – or best case a few – shots at making it happen; getting from stand still to some sort of motion in the right direction. But if you get there, you (by and far) have it made.

But getting past this initial barrier – get the engine started and movement commenced – is your biggest headache. How to make it happen? How to make sure it happens, if it doesn’t happen in an instance? And – to some extend – how to keep the engine on and the wheels in motion.

In these cases disruption of the status quo doesn’t happen somewhere down the line. It either happens straight from the bat or maybe not at all.

It’s actually quite scary. But at the same time hugely motivating.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Get the outside view

If you’re stuck in whatever you’re doing or trying to accomplish, look outside your team and get an outside view on what you’re doing and where you should be taking things.

True, the person you approach may not be a subject matter expert like yourself. But on the other hand the person is also not so deep into the matter, as you are and may thus very well be able to see things a lot more clearly.

And it is that new clarity that you need for yourself, your team and – ultimately – your business. It may be just what the doctor ordered in order to get you out of your current predicament and onto a greater and better trajectory.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Getting the verdict

Yesterday we spend in prototyping mode. While a super interesting project, we have been working on for some time was starting to take shape for the first early user testing, I put some of the final touches on a pilot for another upcoming project, we’re testing out.

This is always when things start to become tricky. You can have what you believe to be the best idea ever in your head, but it is only when you show it to others – and particularly those who are going to (hopefully) become your customers that you will really know, whether you’re on to something or not. It can be really frightening.

But this is where you need to remember that the only thing that matters is customer feedback. And you can’t get any, if you don’t get it out there and start to get some reactions. And you can’t change things – pivot even – unless you get brutally honest feedback. Which, in turn, you need to be able to succeed. So. Just. Get. It. Out. There.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Problems persist

If you are trying to solve a problem that your customers emphatize with but are NOT actively looking to solve right now, does that indicate that maybe the problem is not that big after all?

Conventional wisdom will say that it is definitaly a possibility. But take a step back and consider another thing:

When a user is not actively looking for a solution to a big problem, it is not that the problem isn’t real. It could instead be that the user, in the absence of obvious solutions, have plain and simple given up for now. And that they are just waiting to discover your solution.

Problems tend to persist. Even if we have (momentarily) given up on solving them.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Screaming is not solving

One thing the iQnite case competition on climate change has taught me is that there is a big difference between talking a problem up and the ability or desire to do anything about it.

While we often hear and see young people on the street protesting against climate sinners and calling for action NOW!, I look at the submissions we got for iQnite and the outreach I tried to do to create interest in participating and helping solve some of the real issues. And I see that there are none – ZERO – participants from this group of very activist young people.

Those who did signup were by and large a bit older, had some relevant experience in their belts and – for that reason – had some pretty specific ideas on where they could apply their experience to affect change. And I have come to think that maybe that is just how it is; that the foundation for creating the change and impact needed is that you actually know something and have identified areas, where impact could be created and not just have the ability to protest (eventhough those protests are certainly very valid).

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Outrage versus passion

One of the things I have found while working to create our case competition on climate change, iQnite, is that there is a big difference between outrage about something and passion for doing something about it. Just because you’re outraged about something doesn’t mean that you want to take real action towards doing something about it. Far from it.

While it is easy to find people who are outraged at climate change – just think about FridaysForFuture – it is super, super hard to find people, who are actually passionate about wanting to do anything about it. And it is understandable; protesting is easy, fixing things are hard. Yet the contrast couldn’t be starker.

The way to find the right people seems to be to get personal. Find the people that they talk to on an everyday basis and have them endorse what it is that you are trying to do. That increases the odds of getting people out and getting them committed. Just random trying to get people together and turn their outrage on social media into action won’t make a dent of a difference whatsoever.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)