Ensuring the success of your project: From dare to challenge

The way to generate ideas with impact.

Thinkers Co Blog - Ensuring the success of your project: From dare to challenge

Why so many projects do not turn successful?

Many times, when we face a dare, we quickly start looking for solutions. Later, when we present to the person who posed the problem the solution we have devised, it happens that he is not interested or is not what he expected. At this moment is when we fall into the myth of thinking “well … this dare is too complex and can only be solved by very creative people.”

No, the problem here does not come from creativity. Over time, we have seen that the biggest mistake we make when creating solutions is the lack of focus on the idea . This means that we try to create optimal ideas without having well defined the problem.

Finding ideas without having a well-defined challenge is like trying to kill flies with a cannon fire.

It’s impossible to hit the target if we haven’t defined what the target is. A dare is usually a complex problem that is too generic and open, which does not give us a clear objective to aim for. However, when we manage to have that objective clearly defined in the point of view, it will be much easier to hit the target. That’s what we call having focus.

Having a clear focus and being aligned with the objective to be met of the dare is achieved through the design challenge. In any Design Thinking project it is necessary to learn how to create the right design challenges as this will guide us through the whole ideation process . But, first of all, let’s nuance the difference between dare and challenge, as they tend to be confused.

Dare vs Challenge

A dare is a very generic problem, something very open, while in a challenge the focus is more closed, that is, the problem posed is more defined. Therefore, when someone throws us a dare, we will automatically start to generate solutions, but these solutions will not generate any impact. On the other hand, when we transform the dare we have been given into a challenge, the impact on the user will be much greater. Here is the biggest difference: while the dare generates solutions that do not contribute value, the challenge generates solutions that do contribute value. Then, when we have the challenge generated, we already have the biggest part of the problem won.

From dare to challenge

How to generate a good design challenge?

In the Design Thinking, two ways of thinking are alternated: divergent thinking and convergent thinking. While in divergence we work on the generation of possibilities by opening the focus, that is, the way of thinking of an artist, in convergence we try to define and close the focus, as an engineer does.

And this is what happens many times when we are presented with a dare, that we start looking for solutions quickly as an engineer would do, but we don’t get them to add value. Or, we begin to explore the problem artistically and never solve it. What design thinking does is to work with that duality of thought to generate solutions with impact. First, we work on getting to know the problem well and then we work on generating good solutions.graphic of the double rhombus of design thinking with its 4 phases and the moments of divergence (map and build) and convergence (explore and test)

Therefore, to move from a dare to a challenge, we first chop up the problem and analyze it in depth, seeing who the user is, what their environment is, what their needs are, and so on. Then, in convergent mode, we define the challenge using all the information we have previously obtained. A simple way to define it is to use the tool Design Challenge. The result will be a question starting with:

How could I…?

In the question, we will include the information about what point we are going to attack, what is the pain of the user and what are his profits. The result must be neither too open nor too closed. For example:

  • How could I create a more sustainable city? It’s very open.
  • How could I decrease the amount of food thrown away in restaurants harden the laws of the city? It’s too closed.
  • How could we reduce the waste of restaurants in the tourist area? Correct, it is neither too open nor too closed.


Therefore, the way to generate ideas with impact, that generate value in the user, does not depend so much on the creativity of each person, but to focus on the dare through the design challenge. In short, when we are faced with a problem, we will always have to take a step back, analyze the dare, investigate it and focus on the project before embarking on a search for solutions.

Updated at 30/11/2020

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