What’s the Problem?
What’s the problem?
Defining a problem clearly is essential for finding a solution and designing an effective communication strategy.
Since all problems have solutions, it is critical that you define the problem correctly.
Einstein wrote, “ The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skills. To raise new questions, new problems, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and makes real advances.”
The four key questions to ask and answer while defining a problem are:
- What are we trying to say and why are we trying to say it?
- Who are we trying to say it to and why? Who are our target audience? And why are they our target audience?
- What can we say that our competitors cannot?
- What is the reason for our product’s existence? If our product is not there, would the prospect or consumer miss anything? If so, what would he miss? If not, why are we having this product? What can we do to make our product essential and indispensable?
Answers to these questions clarify many things and give us a sense of direction. It is important to remember what Norman Brown, the head of an advertising agency once said: If you don’t know where you are going, every road leads there.
Framing the question right or asking the right questions is the most important step in arriving at a right answer and correct definition of the problem. A right question often leads to the much-needed paradigm shift. Consider these for example:
It is said that Henry Ford invented the assembly line simply by changing the question from How do we get the people to work to How do we get work to the people?
Edward Jenner discovered the vaccine for smallpox simply by changing the question from Why do people get smallpox to Why don’t milkmaids get smallpox?
Arthur Koestler, the Hungarian-British author and journalist wrote in this regard: the greatness of the philosophers of the scientific revolution consisted not so much in finding the right answers but in asking the right questions; in seeing a problem where nobody saw one before; in substituting a ‘why’ for a ‘how?’
“The answer to any question ‘preexists.’ We need to ask the right question to reveal the right answer,” concurred Jonas Salk, who discovered and developed polio vaccine.
Think. Think, therefore, about what questions to ask, and how to define the problem.
If you are having difficulty in figuring out what the problem is or your solution seems flat, try defining the problem differently. You will find the solution.
What’s the problem?