I’ve gotten so used to asking and answering the “what are we solving for” question that I didn’t realize it has become a part of my every day approach. Today, my son got a new toy that needs to be registered online with the code that came with it. Once online, he can play games. He left his new beloved toy at the shop and became very distraught…he wanted it NOW, not when Dad returns in 3 hours from the shop!
My husband began with “you should have said something before we were home”. I quickly interrupted the argument and asked my son..”why do you need the toy now?” (aka: what are you solving for?). He responded, as I knew he would, I want to play with it online. PERFECT. Now we know what we’re solving for, let’s solve the true problem. It’s not that you need the toy, it’s the ability to play online. Let’s see if there’s another solution that solves your problem. How about this…Dad can call you with the code when he gets back to the shop. You won’t have the physical toy, but you can still get online. Needless to say, he was very happy with the solution.
I use this approach with my clients all the time. It’s very easy to get stuck on the way you logically think a problem should be solved and become frustrated when there are roadblocks. The next time you hit a roadblock, take a step back and ask the very simple question: “what am I solving for?”.