Loving the Problem, Not Your Solution

Woman with hands on chain link fence

Great designers remember to fall in love with the problems they want to solve. Yet far too often we find ourselves longing to keep the solution we created. So many times we see interesting solutions and work backward to a problem we can solve with it. Occasionally that method can produce results, but not as consistently as focusing on your problems. Be a better designer and love your problems.

Kill Your Darlings

Many fiction writers use this method for breaking through blocks or ways to test the quality of their stories. If they can remove their favorite part of the narrative, does it still hold up? If you were reduced to only a website and an email list, could your ministry survive? Are you relying too heavily on high-tech solutions for low-tech problems?

Loving the Problem

We encounter problems in our jobs every day. There are so many ways you can drive membership for a ministry or encourage people to attend yet another pot luck dinner. A promoted post on social media and a news entry on your website may seem like all you can do. While you may rely heavily on these digital methods, consider analog or older technologies. A well-segmented email list will get better engagement for targeted events and is cheaper. Or consider using printed mailings. A postcard that can be put on a refrigerator might be the best way to send out your student ministry schedule.

Beware of Solutions

Some solutions may look enticing. This is especially true of new technologies. Remember when having a mobile app was the big craze? In most cases, you could solve the majority of your problems with a good responsive website. Then smartwatches became a thing. Did your church really need interactions on your members’ wrists? Despite being a technology enthusiast, I doubt it!

Approaching New Technology

New technology often sparks many ideas. It can also lead to working on features only a few members would benefit from. This is the same with new social media sites. Some of us are leery of spending time on new platforms. Is it worth my time? How will it be used? What content works best? Do they use hashtags? With so many questions, we should approach new technologies with caution.

Action Items

I hope I convinced you to follow this simple rule in design. The fun part will be convincing your leadership that while some ideas may be helpful, we cannot let them fall into similar traps. Instead of chasing a solution with the latest technology, solve the important problems sitting right in front of you. Prayerfully consider all the ways to solve them, including older or analog methods.

Photo by Andres Ayrton

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.