If you have a solution to a problem nobody is looking to fix, is it really a solution?

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Interesting philosophical question, what if you apply the same logic to problem solving? I see so many businesses working on solutions to problems, creating innovative technologies or creating a better widget, but it begs the question “If you have a solution to a problem nobody is looking to fix, is it really a solution?”

When you think about innovation, the actual idea is only a small part of what makes a solution a commercial reality. Similarly in consulting, the solutions that a consultant develops is only a small part of what actually constitutes a commercially viable business solution. Also just as easily applicable to getting people to buy into a solution within the business you are currently working.

So how do you make sure what you are working on has people lining up to take on (and most importantly pay for) the solution that you have so cleverly developed? It starts by doing your homework.

  • How well have you engaged with the potential final users of your solution prior to setting out on the path of developing it?
  • What is the first step you can take to get a viable partial solution to the market, how can you fail fast in testing your solution?
  • What is the value of a solution to the problem holder vs the potential cost of the solution, what does the commercial reality look like?
  • Is someone already a few steps ahead of you or can someone else start after you and get there first, are you working on a “used future”?

If you can answer these questions then you are well on your way to having your solution being adopted by those you are targeting.

Written by Simon Cohn