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  • Writer's pictureDiane Pierson

Don't Solve a Product Problem with a Product Problem

Most B2B product teams are really into solving product problems. But too often, they cause MORE product problems without solving the original ones. Why is that, and how can product teams fix it? The answer lies in having a continuous conversation with your market.


Why Product Teams Often Solve Product Problems with More Product Problems

The reason for this kind of product-improvement doom loop is that product teams don't listen to the market long enough to learn anything actionable. Too often, teams receive an isolated, alarming factoid from the market and start brainstorming how to "solve the problem" with no further input on what "solved" looks like. Too often, they launch a solution that's worse than the original problem.


How to Stop Creating Product Problems to Solve Product Problems

Take a look at the graphic below: it shows the difference between jumping too quickly to action versus taking a little time to understand the problem well enough to act on it:


B2B product teams solving product problems with actionable market data and continuous conversations with the market to innovate on purpose

The product team in the graphic has knowledge that customers in the Southeast aren't renewing at the levels of those in the Midwest. The natural reaction is "fix this!" So, they try everything that might work - wasting a lot of time and money that, best case, was wasted and, worst case, actually did more harm than good! How do you stop this waste? Dig, Guess and Test.


Solve Product Problems Better: Dig, Guess and Test

Dig. When confronted with a scary factoid, pick it apart to see whether the problem's more specific than the data you have. In this example, the renewal problem is concentrated in Virginia and Georgia, not the entire Southeast region. No need to "solve this problem" for other areas of the Southeast because it doesn't exist there.


Guess. Now that you have an area of focus, guess what will fix the problem. Yes, guess. Brainstorm a few ways you might be able to fix what's wrong, and frame them as guesses; questions, as shown above. BUT - don't forget the next step, which is . . .


Test. Too many product teams guess what will solve the problem, build that guess and move on. Instead, ask yourselves, "how can we find out as quickly and cheaply as possible whether our guess solves the problem?" You may need to build and launch to test, but most often a quick survey or crowdsource will tell you. This is much faster and cheaper than building all the guesses you come up with, not to mention more successful in the market.


To Solve Market Problems, Have a Continuous Conversation with Your Market

Too many B2B product teams jump to the fix too soon, making matters worse. Better to dig, guess and test to innovate on purpose.


About the Author

Diane Pierson is the Founder and Chief Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product commercialization for B2B tech companies. Order her book, How to Innovate on Purpose or contact Diane at dpierson@innovateonpurpose.com.

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