The best (and typically most successful) entrepreneurs I meet are insanely knowledgeable about the problem space they operate in. They rattle down all the relevant stats, know by heart where the discrepancies in the data are and have developed a deep understanding and empathy for their users.
In a nutshell: They fell in love with the problem. And they usually did so way before they started thinking about the solution.
It is very common to jump from observing a problem to ideating (and sometimes building) a solution. Yesterday we did a one-day workshop with the participants of SingularityU’s Global Solutions Program — and lo and behold, when asked to focus on the problem, a good chunk of our participants jumped straight to the solution.
It takes discipline and some restrain to force yourself to stay in the problem space without projecting a potential solution. In many ways it is against the very grain of the entrepreneurial soul — after all, our superpower is to identify problems and solve them.
But when you do fall in love with the problem, when you do spend a long time in the problem space, you routinely uncover much deeper truths, much more relevant problems (and sub-problems) and ultimately build significantly better products.
As Albert Einstein once said so succinctly:
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
Why don’t we all spend some quality time revisiting the problem we are trying to solve this weekend?