To provide the right solution to your users, you have to start by loving their problems. It is the Product Manager’s job to be able to answer all the needs of your users. But sometimes, a Product Manager does not focus on the problems faced by the user but focuses directly on solutions.

For myself, this is also often heard and read in books or articles but is usually not implemented directly in the field. And this is what I felt before I realized that what I was doing was wrong, so sometimes the features released to the user were not optimal or could not be used!

Before going any further, I will try to tell a story based on my experience before and after joining the product team.

Before becoming a Product Manager, I was a Systems Analyst with the most important thing to do was translate user needs into a solution. During my time as a systems analyst, I was used to translating problems based on what was stated in the requirements document because usually, the requirements were clear. It was just a matter of how I answered the problem. I never cared about why they need to solve this problem or try to provide another solution that might be better for them.

This was carried over when I first entered the product management world, which was to jump straight into the realm of solutions without much focus on the problem I wanted to solve.

Why does this need to be avoided as a Product Manager? If only to focus on the solution before understanding more about the problem, the solution will not necessarily be the right solution for the user.

As Product Manager, my team and I once made a feature that we hope can help stakeholders (coincidentally, this feature is used by the internal team). Because the problem analysis is not mature enough, when this feature is completed, no one wanted to use it because it did not address the problem they want to solve.

Another thing is the problem you want to solve does not require a solution in the form of a new product or feature. Maybe it is enough to change the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), improve marketing etc.

Let me give you an example: Let’s say your product has had a low adoption rate in the last few weeks, and you, as a Product Manager, are asked to increase the rate to about 30% more than the previous month. Then what can be done is to understand the problem more deeply. Why does this happen? Is it because there is a new competitor? Or the product did not have enough promotion given, or because it turned out to be an unpleasant experience in the application? These things must be answered by the Product Manager first. Before the main problem is known, don’t jump to the realm of solutions.

After investigating, it turned out that the root of the problem was we didn’t give enough promotion in the application, which made users lazy to open the application and make transactions — coupled with the interaction within the application that is less pleasant.

Answering those problems, the solution is to provide a voucher or promotion to the user. This solution does not require an additional feature. It is enough with the marketing team who will make the promotion. And for interaction with users, you can focus on improving it so that users access the application more easily later.

The way to love your users’ problems is by listening to them. Listen to their problems directly, go to them and ask what problems they have. Indeed you can see from the data, but the data cannot provide a sense of empathy that can only be obtained when you come and meet directly with the user.

You can interview them, and you can do several types of interviews as a Product Manager. For more details, you can read the article here

or you also can read the article that needed to be prepared before interviewing them here

Then what if the problem comes from your team, stakeholders, or anyone in your organization. What you need to do is the same. You have to be a good listener. Usually, when stakeholders come and present a problem, they not only explain the problem, but also usually they will provide the solution they want. Sometimes if you follow all of them, it’s not good because it’s not necessarily what they say can be the best solution.

The job of a Product Manager is to be able to provide solutions, not the stakeholders. So listen to the stakeholders. You can take note of what they have to say. Never promise anything at that time, and don’t deliver the solution based on the stakeholder thoughts.

After your conversations with stakeholders, say that you will get back to them with proposals for the right solutions for the problem. After that, you focus on analyzing the root of the problem and then proceed with preparing your proposed solution.

To provide the right solution for users, you have to understand very well what problems they are facing. Focusing on the problem will make the emerging solutions easier because you understand the root of the problem. Never jump into solutions until you understand what needs to be done. Sometimes, the solution is not always by creating a new feature, but it could also use a different approach.

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