What Is The Problem, Really?

Do you really understand your customers? Do you really understand the problems you are trying to solve for your customers?

The real problem may not be as obvious as you think.

Most lifts (a lift is an elevator in US English) have “Close Door” buttons that do nothing. After a fixed time delay, the door closes, regardless of whether the button was pressed or not. Most people do not realise the buttons have nothing to do with the door closing. After all, they press the button and then the door closes.

The lift user desires the door to close. They press the button. They perceive that pressing the button causes the door to close. Problem solved.


The excellent book “Are Your Lights On?” by Donald C. Gause and Gerald M. Weinberg defines a problem as “…a difference between things as desired and things as perceived”.

Take a few minutes to think about your customers and the problems you are trying to solve for them with your product. Do you really understand the problem? What do your customers desire? How can you change their perception?

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