What kind of problem is your product solving? Past, Future or Perfect?

by daniel on January 2, 2011

Perfect Morning

Being a PMA requires understanding of the reason for the product, as crankyPM defined it, the problem must be like pulling a tooth with an ice skate. Unfortunately in most situations, it’s not so obvious and the PMA must create an internal view of the problem the product is going to solve.

Since this image is internal, one of the fundamental decisions to make is what kind of problem the product is going to solve:

  1. Past – a problem known to happen, clearly defined and with clear reasoning of why it’s a problem.
  2. Future – a problem supposed to happen, based on assumptions and estimations of things that will happen.
  3. Perfect – a problem made from merging several problems together, in theory being a super-set of the problems.

Looking at problems in this way helps clarify how to define the work, features and marketing messages.

For example: “feature cup_of_cofee helps the problem you have with waking up in the morning” is a past problem. There are difficulties in waking up and the feature is directly specified for it.

A perfect problem might be “feature cup_of_tee will help when and if you have a cold”. This assumes getting a cold and that tea actually helps.

To sum up, in order to create a relevant product, insider view is needed. The real problem then becomes getting into the “closed” group which is relevant to the problem you want to discuss.  And how do you get in? This is where the human skills are really tested.

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