Define the Problem Instead of Suggesting a Solution

Life lesson from running a digital agency:

When asking for help, focus your efforts on defining the problem instead of suggesting a solution. The person you’re asking for help from may have solutions you’ve never considered.

If my recent experience is any measure, it works equally well when asking a hotel concierge for help getting to a destination1 and getting team members to think creatively about solving a problem2. And boy do I love it when one of our clients comes to us with a well defined problem.

  1. Try “I need to get to [Destination X]”, not “Can you call me a cab?”. 
  2. Try “We want to make sure we communicate [X] to our users.” not “Try putting a sidebar on the site that says [X].”