Author Archives: Angela Duffy

What’s Your Problem?

Brave but Foolish

Starting out on building a business is a brave move. Most of the time people feel frustrated about the way things are; They see that things could be improved upon so they set about making that change.

The big BUT is that they move quickly to designing and implementing a solution without really understanding why things are the way they are. Many don’t ask, ‘why wasn’t this done before?’. They don’t delve deep enough into the problem to fully understand it before embarking on their solution and business journey. As many as one in ten start-up businesses fail. Much of this is due to not fully analysing the problem at hand.

Complex Problems

One problem often doesn’t exist in isolation, it is often part of a more complex problem/set of problems. This alone means that solving for one particular problem may not sufficiently impact all other connected problems in a system. The desired outcome may not be achieved. Analysis and understanding of the full system and interconnected problems is necessary.

Understanding the problem is not a linear process. Iterations in understanding are achieved by exploring, experimenting, generating and regenerating theses. Testing your theories by engaging those impacted by the problem and related stakeholders. Test with mock solutions deepens your understanding of the problem.

Placing the problem in context is critical. A complex problem may not be solvable but you still may be able to improve the status quo. The aim for the start-up business or a project may be to provide an outcome that is multiple times better than current options and outcomes. This can be highly valuable and valued.

Definition of a Problem

This definition of a problem shows how ‘a better scenario’ is desirable but the problem is getting in the way: Definition of a problem: An issue causing harm, difficulty, obstruction or the prevention of what would otherwise be a better scenario.

It is essential to examine the problem from a human needs perspective. A good way to do this is via needs analysis:

– Is there a problem? You’d be amazed how many times this question is not asked.

– Define the scope and urgency of the problem: i.e. Ask ‘how broad or narrow should we define the problem that we are examining and is a priority in the eyes of others?

– What does a potential solution need to achieve?- How will a solution create value, how much value and for whom?

– Determine the stakeholders’ willingness to assess/use the solution.

– What is the customers’ price tolerance?

Resource Limitations

Start-ups and projects can fail because they try to solve a problem that is not a priority in the eyes of others. They define the scope too broadly and try to do too much. Resources are normally constrained for any project/start-up. Therefore, it is critical to focus and solve the right problem and provide the most potential value.

Sometimes the solution is effective but the stakeholder has no desire to implement it. It may be too disruptive to current work practices and/or they may have no budget to purchase/implement it.

Human-centred Approach

Empathy and seeing the problem from outside-in is crucial. This human-centred approach provides insights into the people who are impacted by the problem. It allows a deep understanding of people’s needs. This provides a basis for good design.

What is very important it that the problem is somewhat universal versus affecting a small number of people. A wide-spread need means more stakeholders will value a potential solution. This is key to endorsement of a project or success of a business.

If you are starting your own business or seeking approval for a project asking ‘What’s Your Problem?’ is key to understanding the problem and also the perception of others whose opinion matters.

Customer Behaviour Analysis for Delightful Design

Customer behaviour analysis allows designers to gain a deep understanding of their target audience: their needs, wants, preferences, and desires. Customers don’t always articulate their needs. Sometimes they don’t even know the needs. Behavioural analysis enables designers know what customers really want. By identifying pain points, gaps, and opportunities in the market, designers can address these with their products/service. However, deeper study allows designers tap into the emotional needs of customers and delight them.

Customers’ Desired Outcome

By analysing customer behaviour, designers can understand how a customer might use their solution and what they want to achieve. Knowing what their target audience needs and wants from a product helps them design products that not only meet those needs but exceed expectations.

User Experience

Understanding how customers interact with products can help designers improve the user experience by identifying areas that are confusing or frustrating to users. Iteration following user interaction informs product advancement. Expectations are high and attention span low so usability is assumed. Designers must go beyond this to achieve customer satisfaction.


Identifying patterns in customer behaviour and designing products that cater to those patterns affords a competitive advantage. We are often unaware of our own patterns. We are pleased when our expectations are met but disgruntled if they are not. Designers optimise their products by identifying areas that can be improved to enhance customer contentment and loyalty.


Constant customer behaviour analysis allows for innovative products. To stay ahead of the competition companies must continue to create products that are unique and valuable to customers. Truly engaging those using and paying for their products/service empowers distinctive design.

Customer behaviour analysis ensures designers create products that meet customer needs, improve the user experience, enable personalisation, drive innovation, and optimise products for maximum customer satisfaction.

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Critical Innovation for Our Climate Crisis

Innovation is critical to addressing the challenges of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society are needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Innovation is critical to addressing the challenges of climate change. Development of new technologies and processes will play a crucial role to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enable adaption to the impacts of climate change, and increase the resilience of communities and ecosystems.

Innovations in renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector, industry in general and domestic energy consumption. Carbon capture technology enables removal of harmful carbon from the atmosphere. Innovations in transportation, agriculture, and forestry can contribute to emissions reductions and provide new and sustainable ways of producing food and protecting nature.

The social and economic challenges of climate change can be addressed through innovations that create new economic opportunities, generate jobs, and promote sustainable development. For instance, innovations in circular economy, sustainable agriculture, and green finance can help transform the economy and make it more resilient to climate risks.

However, innovation alone is not enough to solve the climate crisis. It needs to be combined with policies and regulations that incentivise emissions reductions and promote the adoption of innovative solutions. Moreover, innovation should be inclusive and prioritise the needs and perspectives of vulnerable communities and countries, which are most affected by climate change.

Innovation has a crucial role to play in addressing climate change, but it needs to be complemented by policies, regulations, and inclusive approaches that ensure a just and sustainable transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.