Problem Owner is Solution Owner



The room was standing room only. I was playing “Welcome to the Jungle” as loud as my company-issued laptop would play. There was a considerable buzz in the room.

I was speaking at a conference session entitled “The New Diagnostic Utility.” This wasn’t a Get Rich Quick with Flipping Real Estate conference session. This was The Diagnostic Utility.

What was so jarring about this experience was the lackluster response I had gotten to this tool up until this point. The idea came from a colleague that dealt with diagnosing environmental issues in sites. She and her team were excited about it. I understood the need. But no one else seemed to be enthused. Why not?

The conference I was at was full of people who install our software at restaurants all over North America. They had issues that needed to be diagnosed. The title “The Diagnostic Utility” was translated to them like “Save Yourself Hours of Time Making Sure You Did Everything Right”. This was the safety net they needed. Their attendance and enthusiasm confirmed it.

This is probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned this year: a solution is only effective when it is in the hands of the one that has a problem. Not the one that knows about the problem. Not even the one who is losing money on the problem. The one who has the problem.

So when your kid doesn’t want to get to school on time, the solution is waking up earlier, but it’s only effective when your kid wants to be on time to school to avoid a consequence.

When a project is proposed but the people who own that process don’t believe there’s a problem, you don’t do the project.

When you’re getting frustrated that a customer isn’t responsive enough to your solution, perhaps they don’t see there is a problem and perhaps you need to find another customer.

That was the case for The New Diagnostic Utility. Once I found the right audience, everything fell into place.

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