Stop Doing What Youre Told

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It’s easy to solve the wrong problems. Good design relentlessly questions assumptions and reframes the problem to be solved. We know this, and yet, HOW to actually reframe a problem is missing from …

It’s easy to solve the wrong problems. Good design relentlessly questions assumptions and reframes the problem to be solved. We know this, and yet, HOW to actually reframe a problem is missing from our conversations.

In this session, Stephen P. Anderson will share tips that have helped him cut through the noise of requests and requirements, to focus on the real problem(s) to be solved. Specifically, you’ll pick up ways to see a problem from different perspectives, ways to ask why, how to draw upon seemingly unrelated experiences, how to separate real from perceived constraints, and most importantly, ways to keep yourself in check, so as not to solve the wrong problem (or if you do, you do so intentionally, for a strategic purpose!).

Whether you’re designing strategies or screens, you’re sure to pick up a few new mental hacks that you’ll no doubt use on a daily basis.

More in: Business , Technology
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  • 1. The title of this presentation isStop DoingWhat You’re Told!which, if you think about it for too long, is a ratherodd and difficult imperative statement, as complyingwith this command would also place you inviolation of this command…This presentation has been lovingly crafted byS T E P H E N P. A N D E R S O N and will begin ina few moments. Tweeting? Please use #whywhyand/or #ias13 hashtag. Comments and questionsmay alse be directed to @stephenanderson. Enjoy!
  • 2. ProductStephen P. Strategy aND n Deonsisuglting C Anderson
  • 3. ProductStephen P. Strategy aND n Deonsisuglting C Anderson
  • 4. ProductStephen P. Strategy aND n Deonsisuglting C Anderson
  • 5. A C T I V I T YYou have 2 minutes.Design a vase. (example from Marc Rettig)
  • 6. A C T I V I T YYou have 2 minutes.Design a vase.Design a better wayfor people to enjoyflowers in their home. (example from Marc Rettig)
  • 7. “ Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”  –E.E. CUMMINGS
  • 8. A ROUGH DESIGN MATURITY CONTINUUMDESIGN AS Design redefines the challenges facing the organization. FRAMING Framing sets the agenda, outlines the boundaries and axes of interest, and moves design from executing strategy to shaping strategy. Disruptive innovation lives here. Design finds new opportunities by solving existing problems. PROBLEM ? Design process generates alternatives within a problem space. Design also narrows down SOLVING those options to a specific solution. Design makes things work better.FUNCTION This is the classic practice of design - but its still commonly limited to incremental + improvements through iteration over existingAND FORM solutions. Design is the gateway to be hip and cool. STYLE , Design is stylish, but too often is percieved and practiced as a cosmetic afterthought. Design value isnt recognized.NO CONSCIOUS DESIGN ? This attitude fosters design by default - however things come out is fine, because there are more important issues to deal with. (Jess McMullin - Design Maturity Model - http://www.bplusd.org/2005/10/19/a-rough-design-maturity-model/ )
  • 9. A ROUGH DESIGN MATURITY CONTINUUMDESIGN AS Design redefines the challenges facing the organization. FRAMING Framing sets the agenda, outlines the boundaries and axes of interest, and moves design from executing strategy to shaping strategy. Disruptive innovation lives here. Design finds new opportunities by solving existing problems. PROBLEM ? Design process generates alternatives within a problem space. Design also narrows down SOLVING those options to a specific solution. Design makes things work better.FUNCTION This is the classic practice of design - but its still commonly limited to incremental + improvements through iteration over existingAND FORM solutions. Design is the gateway to be hip and cool. STYLE , Design is stylish, but too often is percieved and practiced as a cosmetic afterthought. Design value isnt recognized.NO CONSCIOUS DESIGN ? This attitude fosters design by default - however things come out is fine, because there are more important issues to deal with. (Jess McMullin - Design Maturity Model - http://www.bplusd.org/2005/10/19/a-rough-design-maturity-model/ )
  • 10. What I’m not talking about (though relevant and important!) Frames, Metaphors, Language (a la Lakoff), Linguistic Relativity Cynefin Framework Tame, Complex, Wicked and Super- Wicked Problems SystemsChaotic, Complex, Complex and Thinking Simple Problems Known vs Unknown Problems 4 Types of Problem Adjacent According to Drucker, there’s four types of problems: Problems 1. Truly Generic (individual occurrence is a symptom; Two Different Kinds of Compromises) 2. Generic, but Unique for the individual institution 3. Truly exceptional, truly unique 4. Early manifestation of a new generic problem
  • 11. What I’m not talking about (though relevant and important!) Frames, Metaphors, Language (a la Lakoff), Linguistic Relativity Cynefin Framework Tame, Complex, Wicked and Super- Wicked Problems SystemsChaotic, Complex, Complex and Thinking Simple Problems Known vs Unknown Problems 4 Types of Problem Adjacent According to Drucker, there’s four types of problems: Problems 1. Truly Generic (individual occurrence is a symptom; Two Different Kinds of Compromises) 2. Generic, but Unique for the individual institution 3. Truly exceptional, truly unique 4. Early manifestation of a new generic problem Unicorns!
  • 12. Build a tricycle with wings!*
  • 13. Build a tricycle (SILLY REQUEST) with wings!*
  • 14. Build a tricycle (SILLY REQUEST) with wings!* B What color do you want it?
  • 15. Build a tricycle (SILLY REQUEST) with wings!* B B What color do you want it? We can try out some HTML5-coated titanium!
  • 16. Build a tricycle (SILLY REQUEST) with wings!* B b We can try Stop. out some Why is this HTML5-coated valuable? And titanium! for whom? B What color do you want it?
  • 17. Build a tricycle (SILLY REQUEST) with wings!* B b We can try Stop. out some Why is this HTML5-coated valuable? And titanium! for whom? B What color do you want it?
  • 18. Let’s name somebad requests.
  • 19. But first… Write down a recent problem you were asked to solve.
  • 20. write some case studies to showhow our customers We need a health love us! game to help employees meet wellness goals Is this the real problem, or are we… “Anchoring” Framing the problem in the context of a specific solution which immediately discounts all other solutions
  • 21. Product or Task Focused Experience Focused.Design a vase. Design a better way for people to enjoy flowers in their home.
  • 22. Product or Task Focused Experience Focused.Design a better search Design a better way to learnengine results page. about [topic]
  • 23. Product or Task Focused Experience Focused.
  • 24. Product or Task Focused Experience Focused. Calculator Calcbot Soulver
  • 25. If we’re thinking of [designing] a lunchbox we’dbe rea&y careful about not having the word “box”already give you a bunch of ideas that could bequite narrow. Because you think of a box as beingsquare and like a cube. And so we’re quite carefulwith the words we use, because those candetermine the path you go down.— S I R J O N AT H A N I V E O N “ B L U E P E T E R ”
  • 26. We need a new DrupalCMS to make it easier for our team to edit pages. Our company needs a Sharepoint installation. Is this the real problem, or are we… “Solutioneering” Framing the problem in terms of a technology purchase when the issues may not be technical
  • 27. We need our new siteto be able to do this, this and this. Is this the real problem, or are we… “Wishlisting” Framing a problem as a set of desired features
  • 28. Were going to bethe iTunes of health This will be the insurance! Angry Birds of online shopping! Is this the real problem, or are we… Y “Buzzwording” Likening the solution to some other popular product or service
  • 29. Friendster + Tribe A tool for students to log into + Craigslistthe computer lab, but also a way for teachers to sift through student data YouTube meets Craigslist Is this the real problem, or are we… “Frankensteining” Framing the problem as a blend of things (that may or may not mix)
  • 30. iTunes + iPhoto + YouTube + Facebook + Cloud Storage Is this the real problem, or are we… “Boiling the Ocean” Framing the problem as a HUGE blend of things that are most certainly not acheivable out of the gate!Eva-Lotta Lamm drew this!
  • 31. We need more customersupport folks to answer all these incoming calls. Is this the real problem, or are we… “Treating a Symptom” Reacting to urgent problems rather than seeking the reason for that problem
  • 32. We need more customersupport folks to answer all these incoming calls. Why are you gettting so many calls? How can we improve the product to reduce the Is this the real problem, or are we… number of incoming “Treating a Symptom” calls? Reacting to urgent problems rather than seeking the reason for that problem
  • 33. Our customers don’tknow how to use [x]. Let’s give them more training... or add more instructional text. Or maybe a ‘tooltip’ to explain what to do.
  • 34. (Insert Jeremy’s example from Quizno’s)
  • 35. The problem of getting a kid to learn to ride a bike… Two solutions: training wheels pushbikeThe engineer looks at the problem and says "Oh, Timmy falls down. The designer looks at the problem and says: "What if Timmy keepsWe can fix that:" falling down because he isnt learning to balance, in turn because were giving him too many things to learn at once? What if we take something away?" http://doriantaylor.com/teaching-timmy-to-ride
  • 36. We must fix this now! I’ve got several customers complaing about our new changes Is this the real problem, or are we… “Amplifying the Feedback” Allowing the complaints (or praise) of a few people to drive decisions, even when statistically invalid
  • 37. We’ve tried thatOur technology doesnt before allow us to do that The Senior VP will never go for that Is this the real problem, or are we… “Hamstringing” Artificially constraining the problem with assumptions (usually tech, user or political)
  • 38. We’ve tried thatOur technology doesnt before allow us to do that The Senior VP will never go for that “John selects a nearby fishing spots on the map” “John needs a way to discoor r a we… Is this the real problem, ve are great new fishing spot” “Hamstringing” Artificially constraining the problem with assumptions (usually tech, user or political)
  • 39. We need aFacebook page! We need a blog Is this the real problem, or are we… “Bandwagoning” Framing the problem as something important to do because everyone else it doing that thing
  • 40. Book a hotel Is this the real problem, or are we… “Narrowing the problem” Framing the problem in the context of a specific solution which immediately discounts all other solutions
  • 41. Book a hotel User needs to compare pr icing. which sellers will give me the products I want with the best contract offer? Is this the real problem, or are we… “Narrowing the problem” Framing the problem in the context of a specific solution which immediately discounts all other solutions
  • 42. We need a newhomepage to promote our featured deals. Users will complete brief conversation surveys that will help us measure program impact Is this the real problem, or are we… “Pacifying [insert name]” Problem is framed entirely in terms of one groups priorities (typically the business)
  • 43. User will book ahotel w/ Expedia People will educate their families, friends about our life saving product Is this the real problem, or are we… “Being Presumptuous” Presuming users will do some implausible activity.
  • 44. Is this the real problem, or are we…“Overlooking the Obvious”Problem as presented is missing a vital piece ofinformation or based on a flawed assumption
  • 45. Where to best add armor to the planes structure?
  • 46. Where to best add armor to the planes structure?
  • 47. A B
  • 48. A BWRONG PROBLEM!
  • 49. ! ?
  • 50. ! ?(RIGHT PROBLEM TO SOLVE)
  • 51. [Insert whatever you like -the HiPPO* asked for it…] Is this the real problem, or are we… “Ego Stroking” Problem exists because its important to the HiPPO *Highest Paid Person’s Opinion
  • 52. Like AirBNB, but withthis missing feature Is this the real problem, or are we… “Flavoring” Framing the problem as an existing product + “missing” features. *credit goes to Matthew Milan for this one!
  • 53. "Dont spend toomuch time on this" M.V.P.* Is this the real problem, or are we… “Satisficing” Aims for a "good enough" solution that avoids the risk and costs associated with identifying and responding to the root problem *as practiced!
  • 54. Just copy Amazon Is this the real problem, or are we… “Following the Leader” Framing the problem as having been already been solved by someone else
  • 55. Were building THECommunity for parents of ALREADY EXISTS! Type I diabetics Is this the real problem, or are we… “Supsending Reality” Believing the problem has not been solved already.
  • 56. This UI looks great while weonly have a few options, but we’ll have hundreds in a few years! We need to design for both… Is this the real problem, or are we… “Future Proofing” Solving for a problem that doesn’t exist yet
  • 57. Anchoring Narrowing the problemSolutioneering Pacifying [insert name or role]Wishlisting Being PresumptuousBuzzwording Overlooking the ObviousFrankensteining Ego StrokingBoiling the Ocean FlavoringTreating a Symptom SatisficingAmplifying the Feedback Following the LeaderHamstringing Supsending RealityBandwagoning Future Proofing Please add to, edit, and improve this list: http://bit.ly/badproblems
  • 58. “So… How can I write a GOOD problem statement?”
  • 59. One simple tip:
  • 60. Ask Why
  • 61. Getting to the realproblem…
  • 62. requirements (and user stories)1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 63. requirements (and user stories)1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes x4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 64. requirements (and user stories)1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes x4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 65. requirements (and user stories)1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes x x4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 66. requirements (and user stories)1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes x x4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 67. requirements (and user stories)1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes x x4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. Y =
  • 68. requirements (and user stories)1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 69. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories) for clarity (why? why? why?)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 70. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories) for clarity (why? why? why?)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes My wallpaper is peeling off–5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints how do I get the wallpaper to6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people! stay on the wall?7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. Why is it falling off the wall? The wall is wet Why is the wall is wet? The wall is wet because there’s a leak in the attic. Why is there a leak in the attic?
  • 71. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?) desired outcomes3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people! Who needs what by when?7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. Focuses on Desired Outcomes Why do they want it? Shifts the conversation to Experiences What are their conditions of Desired Creates a Generative Thinking Space satisfaction? Outcome(s) Focuses on Value How will we measure success? Worksheet Encourages Objective Feedback If Who = user What Needs and Insights are driving this request?
  • 72. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?) desired outcomes3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people! Who needs what by when?7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. Why do they want it? What are their conditions of Desired satisfaction? Outcome(s) How will we measure success? Worksheet If Who = user What Needs and Insights are driving this request?
  • 73. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?) desired outcomes3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints A teenage girl with a bl6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!ak e oneeds what by to fe Who utlook needswhen?el more7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. s do ally acc p Why ocithey wanteit?ted when eating healttheir ood, because in sWhat are hy f conditions of A teenag e girl need hood a social risk is mo her Desiredous food dange iti satisfaction? re more nutr rous tha re will we measure success? n a health risk Outcome(s)ins a How ause vitam bec Worksheet ealth If Who = user to good h vital What Needs and Insights are driving this request?*example from Stanford D. School
  • 74. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes conflicting desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people! User Goals7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. Desired Outcome(s) the Sweet Spot! Desired Outcome(s) Business Goals
  • 75. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes conflicting desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people! User Goals7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. Desired Outcome(s) the Sweet Spot! Desired Outcome(s) Business Goals
  • 76. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes Real from Perceived Constraints5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. Desired Outcome(s)
  • 77. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes Real from Perceived Constraints5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT Desired Outcome(s) CONSTRAINT
  • 78. Separate Real from Perceived Constraints You can pry the greenscreen out of my cold, dead hands
  • 79. Separate Real from Perceived Constraints Our technology stack doesn’t let us do that… The CEO will never go for thatWe’ve already triedsomething like that
  • 80. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes Real from Perceived Constraints5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT Desired Outcome(s) CONSTRAINT
  • 81. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints back, look for complementary projects… and people!6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way. CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT Desired Desired CONSTRAINT CONSTRAINT Outcome(s) Outcome(s) CONSTRAINT
  • 82. Project A Project B Project A Project B Project C
  • 83. Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!
  • 84. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints back, look for complementary projects… and people!6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 85. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints back, look for complementary projects… and people!6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people!7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 86. 1 Ignore requirements (and user stories)2 Keep questioning for clarity (why? why? why?)3 Define the desired outcomes4 Resolve conflicting desired outcomes5 Separate Real from Perceived Constraints6 Step back, look for complementary projects… and people! repeat. Learn along the way.7 Rinse & repeat. Learn along the way.
  • 87. Stop. Why are wedoing this? What is the Desired Outcome?
  • 88. Good. Yourefinally asking theright questions!
  • 89. Thank you!www.slideshare.net/stephenpaslideshare.net/stephenpa getmentalnotes.comStephen P Anderson .@stephenandersonwww.poetpainter.com