It’s been stated that a problem well defined is a problem half solved. A key step in accurate problem definition is identifying the stakeholders in the current situation – those people or groups who are affected by the problem and who stand to gain if it is solved.
Unfortunately, outlining and understanding their needs are steps that are often overlooked during the creative problem-solving process.
In addition, we often tend to look at problems through our own point of view – our unique and often idiosyncratic “lens” onto the world. As a result, we tend to project our own perceptions and beliefs onto the problem, without even realizing that we’re doing so. That tends to lead us to an inaccurate and incomplete view of the problem, which hinders our ability to generate creative ideas that actually solve the problem.
Fortunately, mind mapping gives you an ideal way to visually outline and understand this important information. Chic Thompson, in his new book, What a Great Idea 2.0: Unlocking Your Creativity in Business and in Life, recommends the following strategy for uncovering and understanding the needs of stakeholders:
- Who is the stakeholder or group?
- What is their point of view of the current problem or situation?
- Why do they have a different point of view?
Once you have added the insights generated by asking these questions to your mind map, Thompson recommends that you look carefully at your problem outline and, incorporating these different points of view, write a carefully worded description of the precise problem that needs great ideas for its solution.
I especially like the fact that Thompson recommends that you drill down beyond the surface-level needs of stakeholders, not only articulating their points of view but also why they hold them. This will help you to uncover beliefs, biases, motivations and other important insights that are essential to arriving at an accurate description of the problem.
Using mind mapping in concert with this problem definition technique should help you to generate high-value ideas to solve the problems and challenges you face in your work and life. Why not give it a try?
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