Solutions looking for Problems

Very often an interesting service or product comes along that captures our attention. But the red flag starts to appear when it has no problem it addresses. Fascinating, but of what value? Such solutions may eventually actually create more unwanted issues. Strangely, a large number of solutions seek problems. In the business space, academia or even within government circles, we get carried by the novelty or performance; forgetting that no matter how popular, home truths must prevail. Sophistication is not value creation and is not a substitute for value.

@iamjidaw Innovation is about problem solving not solutions looking for problems #innovation #problemsolving #iamjidaw #jidaw ♬ original sound – jidaw

A lot of entrepreneurs and change-makers have interests they are passionate about. But solutions, and making a difference, aren’t just about following your passion. Irrespective of how interesting the idea, popularity, momentum or technology advances aren’t enough. Is the solution needed? Will it solve problems? Taking important decisions about producing just because you’re fascinated by an invention is unwise. The technology space is growing rapidly. It’s easy to get excited by the new and intriguing tech, especially with increasing investment in emerging technologies, AI, AR, VR, Big Data, IoT, Blockchain, etc. Ironically, providers create an incredible number of apps and websites that nobody wants. Why do developers keep developing new features or inventions without checking to see if the market wants them or will pay for them? Is there significant interest? It’s like constructing a road to a place where nobody wants to go. What is the return on investment? What is the point? Hype, tech trends in the absence of value creation – solutions looking for problems.

Solution First
When we create solutions without knowing what the problem is, it is like trying to treat a patient without data or knowing if the tools are right. Assumptions and guesswork rule. This is not innovation – the idea is not enough, can the idea become an opportunity that adds value?
It can be a huge waste of investment because the market doesn’t want or need it. Many businesses, projects and undertakings fail because there is no real need. Not only that, it’s a drain on the stakeholders, and practitioners as it wastes their time and causes confusion and distraction. An engineer that should focus on solving problems ends up spending time searching for problems for the solution, while marketing and advertising departments waste time and resources trying to convince customers that they need the solution.

Way Forward
Problem orientation is fundamental to solutions. How does the solution solve problems? Does the market or sector need it? What is the need? Is the need significant? Passion can be great but always start with the problem. The problem is the main issue. Innovation is not merely about inventions; innovation is about solving problems. What problem will be tackled? Will the solution enable the creation of jobs? Will it boost revenue and income, and improve quality of life, how will it help customers, clients, stakeholders or other people?
Having a brilliant idea is not enough. The new tech is now more fascinating and powerful than ever, but will it enable the startup business to generate more income, will it enhance the government agency’s effectiveness and impact? The value proposition is imperative. The solution needs to be validated with customers and relevant parties; otherwise, you’re creating a solution to no one’s problem.

Jide Awe, founder,