3 Types of Problem to Solve with Design Thinking

3 min read

In the quest of developing new solutions to wicked problems, the journey starts with reframing the problem itself. Problems are not merely problems. There are three stages problems - risks, obstacles, or negative outcomes.

It is essential to understand the types of problem you are solving as each type provides different insights and solutions to solve them. By understanding three types of problem you are solving, ideas can be generated and catered to fit different stages of the problem.

1. Risks

Risks are the possible downsides and negative outcomes your users might face. These are the fears faced by users. Risks can be mitigated by identifying possible risks when an actions are taken by users and develop solutions that prevent them from happening.

Example: Patients might lose their lives in the ambulance or waiting for one due to traffic congestion.

To identify risks, you can ask certain questions like:

What might go wrong if your target customers do certain things?

What are the unforeseen circumstances?

What are the negative consequences if certain things happen?

2. Obstacles

Obstacles are blockages that are slowing down and preventing progress or achieving goals.

Example: Ambulances are struggling to transport patients to the hospital due to traffic congestion.

To identify obstacles, you can ask certain questions like:

What is preventing users from achieving certain goals?

What is slowing them down?

What is causing the bottleneck ?

3. Negative outcomes

Negative outcomes are unwanted circumstances, problems, and consequences. These are fears that are manifested. Negative outcomes require solutions that minimizes negative impacts or turning around the situation from negative to positive.

Example: Patients lost their lives waiting for ambulance or while being transported to the hospital due to traffic congestion.

To identify negative outcomes, you can ask certain questions like:

What are the negative consequences of doing certain actions?

How has it been done up until now?

What is the truth about the current situation?

By identifying the types of problem organizations face, problems can be prioritized on all three stages to design experiential solutions that are comprehensive and connected to one another.