How to stop solving the wrong problems

Roxi Nicolussi
12 min readJul 5, 2022

In my conference talk “Why we’re solving the wrong problems”, I shared many reasons designers (engineers, and product folks) can find themselves either focusing on the wrong problem or the wrong solution.

In the simplest possible terms, one of the reasons we solve the wrong problems is because we’re not thinking big enough. We are throwing bandaids at broken limbs.

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How do we stop solving the wrong problems (and start solving the right ones)?

I introduce two kinds of bigger thinking that can help us assess where the real problem lies.

The first way to think bigger about a problem is by zooming out and in.

It’s crucial to look beyond the thing/ interface/ piece and look at the system it exists within.

Sometimes that means considering how a product is delivered as a part of a service. You see, the distinction between a product and a service is increasingly blurred.

The NN group provides a great example: “A song (an mp3 file) is a product that can be accessed via a service like Spotify or Apple Music. To the user, the difference between a product and service — owning the sound file versus streaming the song — can be close to identical while behind the scenes they are quite different.”

So how can product designers think beyond the product?

Service Design

Service design is the activity of planning and organizing a business’s resources (people, props, and processes) in order to (1) directly improve the employee’s experience, and (2) indirectly, the customer’s experience. — NN group

The three main components of service design are: people, props/ product, and processes.

In my experience, a typical product design or UX design process would include a focus on one prop and one user’s experience of that prop. Although other…

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Roxi Nicolussi

futurist, strategist and leadership coach — writes about life, tech, design, travel, boldness www.bigpictureroxi.com