Stop solving users problems and start making people who they want to be

For as long as I have been building products, everything I have done has focused on solving people's problems.

As product people, being managers, designers, founders, developers, whatever. We spend our time obsessing about the problem and finding the solution.

It's worked incredibly well and spawned some fantastic ideas. At the very least, it helps rally people around a common goal and unifies focus.

But isn't it just a little, err defensive? Negative? And because of that, I think it can hinder us and bring an air of negativity to our thinking and cause us to overlook other opportunities.

So let's change things up and start thinking more positively. Let's take a page from marketing and Seth Godin. Let's think about Who the user wants to be and what we can do to make them that version of themselves.

Let's replace "What problem are we solving?" with "Who does our user want to be?" and "How do we help them become that person?"

So what does that look like in action?

Ok, Let's say we're building a product for team managers—a wonderfully generic example for ya.

Instead of trying to identify the problems, Let's start identifying who they want to be. We'll likely find out they want to be "the best team manager" with "the most efficient team at the company" and "earning more money"

You're probably thinking, that's nice and useless. You'd be right, not much to work with there. That's why we go deeper. What does being the best team manager mean? How is efficiency measured? What will lead to this person getting a raise?

As we go deeper and deeper, we gain this great understanding of who this person wants to be. What they consider success to be for them and with that we can unravel all of these different opportunities that don't spawn from problems but spawn from ambition.

To follow through on this oversimplified generic example. If we deliver you a product that makes you the MVP at your company, hitting all your KPI's, and seeing your salary trends upwards - tell me you're not going to sign up.

I'm going to be working on this approach and start using it within the teams I work with over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for some updates, thoughts, and whatever else.