Monday, April 1, 2013

Product Management: Looking for problems to solve

I've been thinking about what problems to solve.  I think there are many problems to solve all around us.  The trick is recognizing what makes a problem and figuring out how to come up with a better solution.

Here's how I look for problems to solve around me:

1. Add the latest technology to the old way of doing things.

Any business created before Internet and mobile is a good candidate for disruption.  Think of how you might approach solving the same problem with new technologies.  Think about how you used the service and what you felt was lacking that can be solved with new technologies.

2. Spot something difficult to use, make it easier.

Whenever you see products/services that are difficult to use, your job is to make it easier for everyone to use.  Think about how difficult it was to create your own virtual machine.  Thanks to Amazon, it's now a few mouse clicks away.  It's not creating something brand new, but providing existing services in a way that is easy for everyone to use.  User experience design is the product.

3. Look for instances where users are not the beneficiaries.

There are many instances where users are not the ones stand to gain from using the product.  Often there are multiple parties involved in using the service.  Think of how kids want to surf the web and how parents would like to control what activities the kids are allowed to do.  Because there are two or more parties using the system, there are often unmet needs from multiple user groups.  There are also finer social nuance to think about when designing a product for multiple users.

I would love to know if you have any other angle that you use to look for a problem.  Any other angles to add?

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