Blog Post: What Is Your ‘Phase Zero’?

I am admittedly not a history fan. As much as  tried, I could not get into the stories of old that helped shape our world into the place we currently live in. I had no skin in the game when it came to a war beginning, dynasty falling apart, or civilizations created. It was all just another story to me.

Of course, when the subject matter involved the timeline I lived in, my opinion changes.

Such is the case with this great read from 99u about how recent products chose to look at the problem they were solving instead of the market hole they were trying to fill. The pull quote above the fold tells you everything you need to know about a Phase Zero:

Perhaps you ought to start your process a step back and find the right problem.

Products are created in the mind. While that much isn’t up for debate, what should be is the frame of mind the creator is in. There are problems we want our products to solve. Sometimes, these are the unfortunate problems;

  • Needing to be recognized
  • Generating revenue
  • Satisfying a short-term heartburn
  • Creating your own product category

None of those motivations are issues in and of themselves. In fact, money, fame and satisfying customers are all great values for a company to have (all three fit in my employer’s strategy). Problems arise, however, when products designed to answer these particular problems (and a million more like them) instead of fixing the right problems. Only then can successful products reach users.

Think about that when you are in your next strategy planning session. Ask yourself and the people around you to find the right problem. If that takes more time before a vision is set, be bold and ask for it. Your customers will appreciate your passion for putting the right tools in their hands.


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