The secret of successful entrepreneurs
The best part about Problem Hacking, is that I have stress-tested the process for you. Actually, this method is proven; successful entrepreneurs and inventors have done it for years.
Have you ever wondered what separates entrepreneurs like Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, or companies like Apple, Airbnb and Amazon from their competition?
The secret to the success of these admirable entrepreneurs and companies is their detailed understanding of problems they want to solve. Accurate analysis of the problem is the starting point for everything they do. This is the foundation for a successful business and the way meaningful products are built.
In a keynote Kevin Systrom gave at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, he explained how we are wired to focus our attention on solutions. Kevin recognizes that solutions are “the easy part.” The hard part is finding the problem to solve. We seek a perfect user experience or a necessary algorithm tweak. But it turns out solutions are easy to come up with once problems are set into their rightful place. That’s how he and his team formed Instagram. It was only after they fully understood the problems people have with mobile photos, that they were able to focus on the right solutions.
Similarly to Systrom, at Amazon they use a similar approach called "working backwards":
"There is an approach called "working backwards" that is widely used at Amazon. We try to work backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it. While working backwards can be applied to any specific product decision, using this approach is especially important when developing new products or features."
—Ian McAllister, Director of Amazon Day
Likewise, at Airbnb they also share this practice of being deeply understanding problems before generating solutions. A former Product Management Leader shares in an honest blog post what he learned after seven at the company:
“Crafting and aligning on a problem statement is the single most important step in solving any problem. I’ve consistently seen simple projects with vague problem statements go in circles for weeks and months, while complex projects with strong problem statements sail smoothly.”
—Lenny Rachinsky, Growth PM Lead @Airbnb
In an interview Elon Musk explains how our reasoning usually works by analogy, we choose actions that are like something else that was done or like what other people are doing. It's easier for us to think this way because it saves us mental energy. Instead Musk explains we should first boil things down to their fundamental truths the must be true, and reason up from there. He calls this approach First Principles, and it enables us to understand the true nature of a problem and empowers independent thinking that is free from the common thread of analogies.
Take a look at how these ultra successful entrepreneurs and leading companies approach problems, the pattern is clear: effective problem solving is counterintuitive. We tend to quickly switch into “Solution Mode” without first checking whether we understand the true nature of the original problem. That's why we need a framework to guide us.
After years of research I’ve reverse-engineered the approach we’ve seen work for so many others and built a model that anyone can use. That's Problem Hacking.
Problem Hacking has proven to be invaluable throughout my career, I’ve used it hundreds of times to generate success. In one case it even helped us turn a small, six-employee startup with $4M in funding into a growing company with more than 50 employees and $37M in backing. And we did this in only one year. I’ll tell you more about this in the sections to come.
Problem Hacking has become a methodology I use with all my clients. Whether aligning managers with teams or uniting members of a group, this methodology empowers collaborative and individual focus on effective actions, responsibility, and accountability. It has been tested and adopted by designers, UX experts, product managers, executives, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and investors who have benefitted from my workshops and coaching. I hope it helps you, too.
By learning Problem Hacking, you will master the the architecture of problems and acquire the tools you need to uncover your best course of action.
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