Saturday, April 29, 2006

Defining the Problem: Q&A with Tom Chi

Designers defiining the problem ...

"As I outlined in Defining the Problem, designers are often able to reframe business “problems” to better communicate existing and potential relationships (and outcomes) between the market, customer goals, and product ecosystems. To further illustrate this point, I’ve asked a few seasoned designers that have successfully defined or re-defined business strategies to share their experiences defining problems.

First up is the ever eloquent and ingenious Tom Chi of OK/Cancel and Yahoo!

Q: I've been talking a lot about how design methodologies can be used to define problems, not just solutions. You've been doing this extensively and successfully at Microsoft and now at Yahoo! What drives you to take the time required to define a problem? Why do it at all?

A: Usually when a group of smart people is at an impasse for a long time, it is because the problem is poorly framed, not because their solutions are not good. Unfortunately, it is par for the course in the tech industry to try to bowl headlong into solving things even before we know what the problem is, or the criteria for success. Defining a problem is also an extremely creative activity. If you are falling back to the same lame problem statements and measures of success, then you aren’t really trying. And there are a ton of reasons to try. The most important is that a well defined-and exciting problem (and its associated constraints) is the catalyst that makes design go. By not drawing a clear and compelling problem, you are cheating your team out of an incredible unifying and driving energy."   continued ...   (Via Functioning Form)

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