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Point of View: the first step in creating the perfect solution

So, you have run a whole set of customer interview sessions, extracted a whole bunch of data online — what do you do with all this stuff to come up with the best solution?

Creator's block

Let's imagine you're a smart startup founder who's doing everything by the book and fell in love with the problem, not the solution. Meaning, you've done your homework and extracted tons of useful data online, made sure the results you're seeing are not random, went over customers interviews, created your buying persona. All these weeks of research and preparation now have to result in a perfect solution to your customers' pains. You were hoping you'd get this revelation as soon as you get enough data (and it happens quite often, to tell you the truth) but — whoopsy-doopsy — you have at least half of your hard drive stuffed with data, and still you have no idea what to build. Should it be a web application? A mobile app? A community? A marketplace? A SaaS? A platform? The options are sometimes endless and you can't decide which one is the best. Or, perhaps, you can't come up even with a single one.

No problem, we all end up there from time to time — at the dead end, in front of a big and heavy creator's block. The first step to remove it, is to make sure you get your customer's problem right. Or at least, that it's crisp enough for you to start brainstorming about possible solutions.

POV defined

One of the best techniques to clarify the problem statement is to create a POV, or a Point Of View, a document widely used in service design and UX design. POV defines the user, their need and why the need is important to that user. It also highlights the gap between the current state of things where your user still has this pain and the desired state (user's goal, a job to be done). Every idea of a solution, every architecture of your product that you're about to come up with should be tested against the POV to make sure your solution meets the need specified in the POV.

Obviously, POV never indicates a specific solution. It should not contain indications to how you're about to fulfil the user's needs. POV is just a frame for you to start thinking clearly and inspire the creative process.

How to write a POV:

  1. Choose a buying persona — a type of user you're about to create a solution for. Write 1 POV for 1 persona. If you have several personas — perfect! You will create several solutions that will satisfy the needs specified in your POVs, then compare them and choose the ones that intersect.

  2. Select the most essential need for every persona. Why not 2 or 3 needs? Other needs will be covered with the features. But the core of your solution should address the most essential needs. Make sure the need starts with the verb (action).

  3. Add the insights that you have collected about every type of user during customer interviews. Insights can be about the reasons for the need or some additional facts about your buying personas that describe their emotional or implicit motives and that might be useful for positioning your product or/and making it different from every other option on the market.

POV Example

The layout for the POV is very simple and looks like this:

This is the example of POV and a problem statement that I made several months ago for one of the founders I consulted.

Point Of View (POV) method example
Point Of View (POV) method example

You can also write it down in a line like this:

PERSONA/ USER ___________ NEEDS TO __________________ BECAUSE____________________

Important things to remember about POV

Make sure your POV

— Provides a narrow focus on the user/ persona and the need. If you write down a need in 3-4 sentences — you're definitely on the wrong track here. — Is valid and meaningful. Obviously, everything you state in the POV should be based on data you have received via research and user interviews.

— Exciting. Might sound a bit off, but if you don't feel excited about the user or the need you're stating how long do you think you will last working on the product that will satisfy this need?

Now, repeat the process to all your personas and get to the next stage — "How might we....?" method that is also widely used in service design and UX design.

If you need more information on this subject feel free to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn (DMs are open) I'm also available on ProductHunt if you prefer this network.

Useful links and resources:

1) Bryan W. Mattimore, Idea Stormers: How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs, 2012
2) Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, Change by Design, 2009
3) David Allen, Five Simple Steps that Apply Order to Chaos:
4) Point of View in Design Thinking: Definition, Purpose & Elements —
5) POV Madlibs

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