The problem is that we don’t know what the problem is

November 16, 2016

Recently, a government organisation asked us to answer the question of “whether it is possible to create e-services that meet the needs of all age groups?” Our answer, such as it was, was, “Yes. No. Maybe. Depends…” The problem is that we don’t know what the problem is. Which is the problem that we should solve, not how to deliver a service.

This reframing of the problem forms the core of service design. The principle that we should always challenge our most fundamental presumptions and look at everything from the customers / citizens / users point-of-view, to understand what they are actually looking to achieve instead of making presumptions, which may have no basis in fact.

In the simplest terms, this means looking at the benefit a product or service delivers, instead of at the thing or channel itself. By this definition, cars provide the service of moving from a to be. Cameras provide “frozen memories”. Bank cards provide the chance to pay for things. Taking this further means, that each of the things (cars, cameras, banks) are replaceable by whatever allows us to get the service faster / better / cheaper. 

For companies, organisations and governments, the opportunity lies in looking at the root causes and benefits of the “service” instead of the artefacts of delivery. By solving real problems, we can create sustainable service models that can change over time without getting married to a certain way of doing things.

Lead article from Brand Manual Bulletin #9. November 18, 2016