How to Design Better Problems (to Get Better Solutions!): Secrets From UX Design

Hadassah Damien, Designing for good

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13 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Why Problems Intrigue Us

    • 3. The Problem with Problem Solving

    • 4. Designer Mindet: Thinking Like a Problem Solver

    • 5. Project: Create a List of Problems

    • 6. Flip worries Into Goals: Priorities Approach

    • 7. Shadowgraph: Reverse Engineering Approach

    • 8. Restate the Problem Like a Journalist: Just the Facts Approach

    • 9. Restate the Problem as if it Wasn't Yours: Get Some Distance Approach

    • 10. Clarify and Simplify: Edit Out Assumptions

    • 11. Find the Middle: Three Bears Approach

    • 12. Make it Testable: Design to Learn Approach

    • 13. Recap and Review Your Problems


About This Class

Problems of all sizes surround us. Software that never seems to work perfectly. The bank account that has less in it than you thought. An idea your client won’t let go of. World peace.

In this course, you will learn exactly how to clarify, simplify, re-state, and re-examine problems in order to be a better problem-solver. And you’ll learn to do it methodically, as designers do.

Whether at work or in your personal life, it’s often the way we, our clients, and our colleagues think about, describe, and look at problems that keeps us stuck on them. While every problem may not have an obvious and immediate solution, the more clearly you define and present your problem, the more likely you will be able to see pathways to address it.

Designers seek to find high-value aspects of a problem to solve, define them clearly, and then create and test out relevant solutions. In this course, you’ll learn to look at, phrase, and define a problem like a designer, so that you can identify creative, possible solutions more easily.

Consider the difference between: “a few apples and a few oranges is what?” (hint: it might be the base of a basic fruit salad) versus “2+2=?” The second write-up is solveable. It’s written in terms with a simple framework. Even if the numbers were more complex, there’s a way to get an outcome.

How about a harder problem statement? “The client says the interface is weird - you have to fix it” versus “I think if we identify the drop-off point on this interface we’ll be able to test a few ideas to fix it.” Which one seems more fix-able?

Designers work with problems all day - our job is to examine problems and find elegant, workable solutions. The secret? Sometimes we don’t solve the most obvious problem or the “whole” problem - and that’s the point. This course teaches you how to break apart sticky problems so you can find just the part you’ll solve for.

You’ll do a project where you refine and work on new ways of thinking about two to three problems of your own: one from work, one from your personal life, and a wild-card option. You’ll leave the course with: your problems re-defined six different ways, a clear sense of how you can apply these methods across your work and life, and the mindset to think about problems methodically.

A few problem-definition skills you’ll learn are:

  • Priorities approach
  • Reverse engineering approach
  • Design thinking approach
  • Clearest issue only approach
  • Three bears approach
  • Just the facts approach
  • … and you’ll get practical examples along the way

This class is for anyone who gets stuck at the beginning of trying to solve a problem (which is most of us) and is excited to dive into new ways to unpack, assess, and get to the heart of problems.

If you’re ready to become a problem-solving Jedi, this course is for you. It’s especially relevant to product designers, engineers, small business owners, and to those working on a personal development journey.

Materials required: A place to write things down (paper/pen or a digital notebook); A place to track the ideas and next steps you come out with.

Ever wonder how Nancy Drew did it? Learn to see through a problem into its heart and design the problem you need to solve, in order to begin to find the highest-value solutions.