Problem Solving: All About Repetition
Bazaarvoice Product VP on Problem Solving (Part 2)
In my experience, product managers get better at problem-solving by pressing the repeat button. Simply put, practice makes perfect. That said, there are ways to gain access to these “reps” that go beyond your regular day-to-day. For example, most product managers focus on their specific vertical on a daily basis. However, when you’re in a consultant or mentor role, you’re able to work within many different verticals.
One of the biggest advantages of getting insights from other verticals is applying new perspectives to your daily tasks. During my time at Time Inc., I faced a situation where we had to completely rethink our approach to monetizing the company’s digital content.
As you may know, Time Inc. owns several publications. When I joined the team, we were tasked with leveraging Time’s equity to boost revenue for its digital properties. However, Time as a brand was not the problem – nor was it a part of the equation that we needed to solve the problem.
Simply put, the problem was that we didn’t understand the problem.
So, we set out to define digital experiences that were relevant to each of Time Inc.’s properties. For example, Health Magazine created a “health content network” that synced with popular fitness apps to provide easier access to our workout content. In addition, Cooking Light would provide pescetarians with access to recipes sourced directly from popular seafood restaurants. And of course, People Magazine subscribers would receive access to the outfits being worn by their favorite celebrities.
Now, it’s tempting to think that problem solving is all about ideation. In other words, you have to lock yourself in a conference room and hope that your sticky notes yield something special. Conversely, the best way to tackle new issues is to be creative – which is different than simply brainstorming. Said differently, the best way to solve problems is to connect your left brain and right brain.
In summary, you start with the foundational experiences from which you can draw inspiration. Next, you can take these known principles and apply a fresh take to those ideas. Simply put, “creativity is intelligence at play” – which doesn’t mean that you’re starting from scratch. Instead, you’re building upon past success by thinking differently about a particular solution.