1.    Patch - Something is broken. I need to quickly reduce or eliminate the symptoms.
2.    Fix - Something broke. I need to find out the root cause and then fix it at the root cause level.
3.    Improve - Something is underperforming or expensive and I need to understand, then improve the situation.
4.    Creative fix - I already have a very strong solution, but significant problems must be addressed to move it forward.
5.    Innovate to reduce pain - I need some totally fresh approaches to fix or reduce my problem.
6.    Innovate to increase gain - Our functions have never fit into the form requested. I need to fit/program our functions into those new configurations.
7.    Ideate - Our customer or the market trend is asking for something we don’t have or do. I want to come up with some totally fresh ideas.
8.    Adapt an innovation - This is really a cool idea! Who could use this? Can I define a strong value proposition?
9.    Bluesky - The marketplace is always looking for more cool, more functional, simple to use, and less expensive. I want to contribute new ideas.

•    It's a continuum where 1. is very specific and 9. is very vague.
•    Problem categories 1 to 5 generally WANT to eliminate or reduce pain (easier to internally sell)
•    Problem categories 6 to 9 generally WANT to create new solutions or new markets (early efforts always look “ugly” and need leadership to protect the effort to allow it to grow and mature. Check out Ed Catmull’s great insight on this http://250words.com/2014/04/why-pixar-nurtures-its-ugly-babies/)
•    Also note that some of these categories are addressing past problems, some present problems and some future problems.

So – I hope you now better understand what you kind of problem you WANT to solve -

Question: how would you categorize the problem you WANT to solve?

The problem is clearer but not clear enough to solve. Invest time describing the problem or opportunity and it will pay off when you explore solutions.

Bluefusing (exploring all possibilities then choosing collaboratively) a problem statement may be a few minutes (describing what’s wrong with what) or many weeks (gathering customer or market data and defining a new product specification that is sustainable and differentiated).


what problem/opportunity do you WANT to solve?

From a strong problem statement teams can bluefuse (ideate then select) a strong solution. If customers don’t know what they want or if the solutions are complex, interim solutions or prototypes help clarify the problem statement and the solution.

Question: what solution do you WANT to pursue?


What problem do you WANT to solve?

We have only the word, “problem,” to talk about problems - and that’s a problem! Some problems are trying to fix things, others are to improve things and still others are attempting to create new things. After decades of problem solving, I’ve created some categories to help identify the kind of problem you WANT to address.

Problems range from looking for a specific solution (what is the cause of the recent, dramatic increase in customer complaints?) that you are certain exists, all the way to a novel solution no one knows they need (think mobile phone). Individuals and teams waste a lot of time thinking poorly about their problems.

The following categories can help you identify and communicate what kind of problem you WANT to address:

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