Start with the problem — not the solution

The business world isn’t short of solutions. Big Data, Agile and Digital Transformations are all hawked as ‘silver bullet’ solutions to a wide range of possible problems. But most problems organisations have come from:⁠

  1. A Tyranny of Action: Endless meme copying (“let’s go Agile!”) with little awareness as to why they should be doing this and not something else
  2. Miscommunication & Misalignment: Focus on hitting internal KPIs that poorly-represent the organisation’s strategic priorities
  3. Missed Opportunities & No Hope Projects: Low-hanging fruit not picked (because of #2 above) and launching projects to meet needs customers don’t actually have
  4. Duplication & Bias: Dozens of projects duplicated across the organisation as silos don’t cooperate with other silos, leading to huge amounts of waste
  5. Constant Restructuring: Bolting on new “solutions” as things go wrong, followed by further restructuring to remove them later, before adding on the latest ones again (repeat ad infinitum).

Most organisations aren’t engaged in a Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ battle but a ‘survival of the least incompetent’. This explains why copying the latest ‘solution’ is rife — it doesn’t require much thinking, as thinking is hard.

But what happens when a new rival enters your field of play and starts focusing on fixing your customers’ problems instead? What do you do when an Amazon or AliBaba enters your field?

Or what do you do when you’re hit by an unprecedented disruption — like CoVid-19 — and there are no simple “solutions” to adopt? What’s your next move then?



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