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E36: Problems Worth Solving – A Real World Example

by Sean Boyce

I’ll walk you through an example where I used this framework to identify a real-world ‘problem worth solving’ to scale impact.

On this episode I talk about:
  • What the ‘problem worth solving’ framework is all about
  • How I followed the process to find a real problem worth solving
  • The target market we selected for discovery (and why)
  • What the results of each step look like in practice
  • What to do after you find a problem worth solving
If you’d like to learn how to scale impact at your nonprofit by more than double in less than half the time, sign up for my free 5 day email course (https://nxtstep.io/impact/)

Episode Transcript

Hey everyone, Sean here. Today what I want to talk to you about is a real world example of the episode I’ve recorded and shared yesterday, called problems worth solving. And in that episode, I walked you through how to identify a problem worth solving. Today I’m going to talk you through a real world example where I’ve used that framework in order to identify one. 

So if you haven’t listened to that previous episode, and you don’t know what I mean, when I refer to problem solving, go back and listen to that episode first, because this one will make a lot more sense. Okay, so we talked about the framework Right? Which is starting with a target market, talking to them about their problems and challenges, better understanding how they’re solving those problems and challenges today are what I refer to as the existing solution, and then getting a better handle for the impact of that problem or challenge in terms of what is it costing said individual? And as such, having context around all of the answers to those questions, gives us a better idea to be able to understand whether or not there’s enough opportunity there. It makes sense for us to invest in a solution to improve the value that the target market customer or user or client is ultimately going to get, meaning that we can move the needle and scale impact with a solution like that before we invest big time and money building something. So that’s an overview of the process. 

This example that I’m gonna share with you comes from the nonprofit client that I worked with to help scale impact. Ultimately, we built a software application to specifically address the challenge that we found with a specific target market. In this case, it was their non profit program clients, it was the clients that were enrolling in their program and the value or a specific challenge that they clients were experiencing. When they were trying to get the value out of the program. 

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Now in this case, the program was to help them build essentially financial assets and wealth to help pull themselves out of poverty and help an underrepresented population that struggles with challenges related to the clients in the program. When people are enrolled into the program and do well in it and they graduate from it, they’ve been able to make pretty dramatic transformation. So the value is definitely there. However, there are issues related to under utilization and people getting to and through the program in particular. So then my nonprofit client wanted to specifically see what they could do about understanding the challenges that the clients themselves were having, so that we could figure out what we may be able to do to scale impact for them. So I invested in performing discovery with the nonprofit program clients, which translated to one on one conversations with them so I can better understand the challenges and I could go through the discovery process with them. 

Ultimately, what I found out when doing so was that one of their biggest challenges was related to not having enough time with their coaches. Now this program that they’re enrolled in, it requires them to meet with and spend time with financial coaches so they can learn more about how they can build a better financial future for themselves by improving their credit, paying down debt. Learning about all these things, to the time with the coaches was very valuable to them. The problem was they weren’t getting enough of it. And that started to lead me down a path of understanding what the impact of this challenge was related to them sometimes losing focus and losing progress in the program and sometimes becoming disengaged, ultimately leading to clients dropping out of the program, which is the worst case scenario, when we’re talking about this particular program. So this problem had real negative impact associated with it. 

The next thing to do was to talk more about the existing solution, how are they solving this problem today? Well as it turns out, the clients were simply waiting for their next touch point with their coaches. However, the problem here was that the coaches were overwhelmed, and they were unable to spend a lot of time with each client. So the meetings were happening rather infrequently. So the meetings may only happen every three months or so, which meant that there was a lot of time in between the meetings between the clients and coaches. So the clients would have these situations where they could really use the guidance of the coaches or they wanted to ask a quick question of the coach, because they might be, you know, signing up for a loan on bad terms or putting something on credit, purchasing something that maybe more like an impulse purchase that they didn’t really need but wanted in the moment, but they, you know, had those moments that we all do and they ultimately made a financial decision without the guidance of their coach which set them back in their program. So this also spoke to the impact but ultimately, the existing solution gave me a better idea for what the level of performance was for how they were trying to solve that problem today, and they were just waiting for the next meeting, which was not catching all these instances in between where they could lose progress. They can become demotivated, they can forget about all the positive momentum that they had already made. And that would ultimately lead to them becoming disengaged, and for some of them dropping out the program. 

So plenty of negative impact here, and plenty of opportunity to improve so that I wanted to share that with you because that’s a real world example of ultimately what we invested in from a discovery perspective, in order to better understand whether or not there was a problem worth solving here, and we believe that there was so ultimately we moved forward to building a product to solve this problem. And I’m gonna talk about what that was in a future episode probably tomorrow. So stay tuned if you want to listen to the next installment in this series where I’ll walk you through, ultimately what we did and the product that we brought to market to help these clients with this problem and provide them with a better solution.