Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Think

Thinking as a function

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.

Henry Ford

Times are changing. Even though you have the brightest of the ideas, investors and consumers are looking at the fact that it is not about only solving the problem, but reaching the consumers.

As entrepreneurs, we need to embrace the fact that solving the right problem is just not the only way, but what becomes important is how we message and help our consumers understand the solutions. There are two aspects which we need to consider seriously before embarking on the journey of building solutions – First, we need to understand the view of traditional logic and secondly, we have to employ the view of association theory.

What do these mean?

The view of traditional logic provides us the understanding of the problem and the kind of solutions which have traditionally been accepted by consumers. When you identify the problem, depict how consumers have accepted solutions to similar kind of problems earlier and design the solutions based on the principals of approachability.

Let us look at a simple case study of an online grocery store in India. Traditionally, the way we shopped groceries was to go to a Supermarket or a local vegetable market and purchased our daily needs. Over the period of time, it was acceptable for us to call the local grocery shop and have them deliver to us. As times changed, now, we do not even call the local grocery store, but open a website/app and select all the groceries we need and they get delivered home.

The progression happened step-by-step. First, consumers were accustomed to not requiring to go to the shop to select their goods, and then slowly, consumers have been introduced to the concept of shopping in more than one store and select what they like.

When you are designing a solution, if it is a progressive step to the daily workflow, it becomes easier for consumers to understand and use the solution appropriately.

Look at how banking has changed in India. Initially, it was ATM Cards, then Net Banking and now, API Banking, making it easier to send money by just using a mobile number. The transition was step-by-step.

This does not mean solutions cannot be radical. Few years ago, SpaceX said that they would put people on Mars and asked interested people to sign up and after their selection, they would undergo rigorous training before they are sent to mars. This is radical progression and the company was looking at not many people in their first batch, but a select few. Since the world is definitely made up of early adapters, they got their numbers.

It all depends on how you wish solve a problem and how you want to make your clients utilise your solution. Either make it a progressive approach or a radical one. But, before you begin solving a problem, spend time on understanding the progression of the domain/industry and illustrate to yourself how things have changed over the period of time. This makes it easier for you to design, educate your consumer and implement the solutions.

In view of association theory, what you would understand is the consumer behaviour. You can use various techniques and methodologies to understand this – Consumer interviews, survey’s, having conversations with potential users etc. These methodologies will help you understand what the user is looking forward as a progressive next step. To contradict this, Henry Ford famously said, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would ask for faster horses”. So, we should be very specific in what we are looking for and understand the trends and the industry before we even begin solving the problem.

The objective of this post is to help aspiring innovators/entrepreneurs ideate and provide a framework for the same.

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