Solving a problem is hard, but harder is finding the correct problem to solve

Photo by Bonneval Sebastien

Recurrent retrospective sessions help to set a continuous improvement workflow. Those guide your team to find opportunity areas and test solutions. But, how can you design and facilitate those spaces? Read more · 1 min read

What if you don’t have a team? Try different ways to represent the problem. The more perspectives you get, the more chances to find a better solution. Frame the mess from different angles, using diagrams.

Tools of the week

More free resources at jantonioavalos.com/resources

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1. Explain to your team the rules for a safe space

  • Every opinion is valid
  • It’s not personal. Focus on facts, not blaming someone.
  • Open-minded listening to detect opportunities

2. Choose the questions template for a better perspective

  • Quick retrospectives define the team’s key focuses of attention
  • Mad, Sad, Glad format to understand your team’s emotional health and consider changes
  • Start, Stop, Continue template to focus the team on new habits by defining what to do or don’t
  • Sailboat framework helps to define the vision for the team and anticipate problems ahead
  • The 4 L’s look at the current situation from a factual perspective

3. Schedule action items with owners and follow-up dates

They will help as calendar remainders and keep track on people and tasks progress.

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Here are some diagrams you can use to frame a problem from different angles:

  • Block diagrams to illustrate concepts built by objects, their attributes and interrelationships.
  • Flow diagrams to describe the steps on a process, their connections and flow conditions.
  • Venn diagrams to highlight how different concepts or objects relate or connect.
  • Hierarchy diagrams to draw the relation between people, places and concepts.
  • Mind maps illustrates the connections between concepts, objects, ideas, channels, people, and places within a particular context.

More tools and a whole process explained at:

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Side-projects are never a priority. Do you remember those internal tools, book clubs, podcasts, blogs or health routines that were never done?

After those energetic starts, use these 4 steps to prepare a shared-place and ensure progress:

  1. Create a single-source-of-truth for knowledge and activities. Use a Wiki and Kanban apps.
  2. Set recurrent reviews and block execution times. Use a shared calendar and a task focus app.
  3. Prepare agendas with expected outcome and track tasks with a person and deadline assigned.
  4. Build relationships instead of transactions and ensure points of contact per topic. Use a simple personal CRM and schedule 1:1s with every person in your team.

Notion has a wide community with tips and free templates for every step:

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Sure, personas are not accurate. And they could be a waste of time when over-designed. But that’s not the point. They are research artifacts to show customers context and needs to facilitate communication among teams.

Using personas help teams to:

  • Be focused on real needs according certain customer journeys.
  • Have open discussions in terms of a third person’s goals. “Does this design meet the persona needs?” sounds more productive than “Can we make this bigger?” or “Will this provide more conversions?”.
  • Prioritize delivery so you can test, verify and rethink solutions, instead of wasting time on polishing features before the release.

Remember, you’re not designing for an imaginary friend. You design to deliver verified solutions to customer problems. That’s why customers buy your product, they don’t care about the company or team’s methodologies.

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J. Antonio Avalos

J. Antonio Avalos

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Product Manager & Certified UX Architect. I write about productivity, strategy and communication skills for creatives | jantonioavalos.com