In the movie “The Galactic Hitchhiker Guide”, aliens of superior intellect design and create a supermachine that helps them understand the mystery of life. After building this supercomputer, they approach it with the following question: “Oh, great computer: What is the big response to life, to the universe, to everything? “. The machine asked them to return within a few million years when they have been able to process this question.
After a while, these living beings become expectant to know what was the ‘great response’ of the supermachine. But it turns out it was stupid trying to calculate the solution, without first defining well the question. (The scene is worth seeing! You can do it here.)
Before devising anything or looking for a solution, we must define the problem well. To this effect, we must research, observe the competence, ask the user, etc., that is, collect relevant information in the form of Insights. But, how can we synthesize all that information into something simple and operative that allows us to start thinking?
Here are the big questions: what is the question to solve? what problem do we want to solve?
The Design Challenge is a key tool, as it reflects the need and pain of our user in the form of a challenge, and the gain or benefit derived from its achievement:
- Needs: What does our user really need? We must focus on the deepest needs and ignore the most obvious ones.
- Pains: What hurts our user based on the problems we have investigated? We must empathize with the user, find tasks or actions that he detests in his everyday life.
- Earnings: What does our user gain by solving his pain? How does he improve his life? What benefits does he get?
With these three elements we must define our challenge. Our ‘big question’ must collect all these ingredients so that the ideation phase is optimal and the solutions obtained really add value to our user.
In addition to synthesizing the research, the Design Challenge helps us to guide the team and focus on devising solutions on something concrete, since the question defines what we must solve, for whom and why.
Therefore, before getting to look for the great solution, think about the big question. If you succeed with it, the solution will come alone.