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Invented Problems

“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”


Per a recent survey, 43% of all startups fail because they offer solutions nobody is willing to pay for.

This problem, however, is not limited to startups.  Established companies have a very high fail rate with their product development: 95% of all new products are not accepted by consumers.

Companies obviously develop products nobody wants – meaning they are not addressing a relevant problem in the lives of their customers.

We are inventing problems to solve versus inventing solutions to real problems.

How to Find the Right Problem to Solve

Although this is only a step in the problem-solving process, finding the correct pain point to address is the most crucial step.

What must be done is to articulate the problem in the simplest terms possible: “We are looking for X in order to achieve Z as measured by W.” Such a statement, akin to an elevator pitch, is a call to arms that clarifies the importance of the issue and helps secure resources to address it.

This initial framing answers three questions:

What is the basic need?

This is the essential problem, stated clearly and concisely.  It is important at this stage to focus on the need at the heart of the problem instead of jumping to a solution.

What is the desired outcome?

Answering this question requires understanding the perspectives of customers and other beneficiaries.  Avoid the temptation to favor a particular solution or approach.  This question should be addressed qualitatively and quantitatively whenever possible.  A high-level but specific goal, such as “improving fuel efficiency to 100 mpg by 2030,” is helpful at this stage.

Who stands to benefit and why?

Answering this question compels an organization to identify all potential customers and beneficiaries.

After answering these three specific questions, one general question remains: If the problem you want to solve is industrywide, why has the market failed to address it?

The Bible

Our world today has many problems that need solutions.

While many entrepreneurs and small business owners focus on limited and physical solutions –many of our most pressing problems are incredibly large and mind-boggling.  Think of solving a city’s crime problem, or corruption in government, or poverty, injustice, education equality, etc.

Fortunately, solving these problems takes a similar approach to solving the small, more straightforward problems.

We need to state the problem in simple terms and then state the basic need, define the desired outcomes, and identify who stands to benefit.

For Christians, we need to acknowledge the source of the problem is our Fall from grace through Adam (beginning in Genesis 2:4, Matthew 15:19, Romans 3:23).  We live in a corrupted world today, and the answer to that corruption is Jesus Christ.

Matthew 11:28 says

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Proverbs 3:5 says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

Because we rely on the LORD, Psalm 119:98-105  says,

Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.

With the number of problems in our culture, it is unnecessary to invent more.  We must focus on the issues and solve them using time-tested processes.  And the first step in solving these problems is relying on our Lord and Savior.