Solving a Problem? Here’s the one question you MUST ask first!

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A presentation being had in meeting room

Answers come fast. When times are tough or something bad happens, it seems like there’s always a line of people waiting to offer advice. Everyone has an idea. Everybody has an opinion. But do any of them truly understand what the problem is? Probably not.

After facilitating strategic planning sessions for financial institutions over the past decade, I’ve come to a conclusion. Few things can kill success and momentum faster than running forward with an idea before truly understanding the problem it’s trying to solve. To say it another way, a good solution applied to the wrong problem will always be the wrong solution. Understanding a problem should always be the first step to solving it.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Three transportation companies got their start between 2009 – 2012. Uber was founded in 2009 to solve the problem of people waiting for taxis. In 2010, Gett was launched to help taxi drivers find more passengers. Two years later, Lyft opened for business. Unlike the previous taxi-focused companies, Lyft’s founders sought to solve the problem of college students driving home with empty seats in their cars while students without cars were stuck at school.

None of these ventures started because their founders were trying to develop a cool app to make their existing companies more relevant. The apps weren’t launched just because “people want apps.” Even though all three wound up offering similar transportation solutions, they each targeted a different problem. That little detail made a massive difference in their growth trajectories.

So again, I ask: What problem are you trying to solve?

When you’re sitting in your strategic planning session this fall or gathering with your leaders to consider a new idea for your credit union, reframe the conversation with that pointed, purposeful question. What problem are we trying to solve? When you do, there’s a good chance the conversation will take an unexpected (but not unwelcome) turn. New ideas will come to the table, ideas you never would have discussed before. When they do, lean in and watch how some of those ideas turn into something big.

Does this one piece of advice sound too easy? Of course, it does. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Identifying the specific problem you’re trying to solve will spark some incredibly productive conversations. If you want to dig deeper into more meaningful discussions, here are three follow-up questions to ask:

  • WHY is this problem important?
  • WHO has the problem?
  • HOW MUCH are the people with the problem willing to pay for a solution?

The next time you and your team are considering a new idea or trying to solve a persistent problem, try asking these questions. The questions may not be groundbreaking, but the ideas and solutions they uncover just might be!

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
 
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
 
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche

Copywriter

Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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