Start With The Problem, Not With The Solution

If I gave you a million dollars for this project, what would you give me back? I sit and reflect on a recent question I had about the solution my project team is working on. The answer to this question is, I don’t know and I’m not supposed to yet. I know the problem we are trying to solve, I know the outcomes we are trying to achieve, however what that solution looks like is still being figured out. 

Design thinking is a different approach to our usual way of conducting projects. Often you start with some objectives to achieve, choose a solution and work towards it. Instead we are starting with who we are solving a problem for, it’s called human centre design. Once you understand who you are solving for you begin to explore the problems they are facing and discuss the problem that you are trying to help solve. The focus is not on the solution, it is on the people you are solving for. 

Libro is a purpose based company and our purpose is to grow prosperity in southwestern Ontario. What does prosperity mean? Well that’s a great question, we believe it means something different for everyone. Each of our lifestyles are different, our goals are different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for what prosperity means. So, how does Libro know if we are growing prosperity for our Owners (members)? Our project is certainly not the answer to this large question, but it’s a start. We want our Owners to confidently say that they are better off by banking with Libro and we hope our solution will help achieve this. 

We have spent a lot of time researching, discussing and understanding who we are solving for. (For more details on this process and who we are solving for, look out for my next blog!) One term we began to use to describe our audience was “tangled”. Tangled refers to people who feel they have a complex, and potentially overwhelming financial situation. Whether this is buying a new home, having children or saving for the future, there are new elements that do not seem like simple decisions as they are intertwined with other decisions, making them… tangled. After describing who we were solving for we needed to understand the problem. 

Defining your problem is a lot harder than you may think. It requires discussing at length the issues people are facing, the causes and effects of those problems and figuring out the root cause of each one. A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein says, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” 

This is a pretty great reflection of our journey so far. The problem as we see it, is that people want to have better financial behaviours to work towards their goals, but there is a lot getting in their way. From bad habits, social pressures, cultural norms and everything in between, we have a society that often encourages spending now and dealing with it later. How might we help people achieve better financial habits to make progress toward their life goals while dealing with all these factors? 

We are just getting into the “ideation phase”, which means exploring all the possible solutions. We want to help people reach their goals and form good money habits. We want to see our Owners save more, pay down debt, and work towards their personal prosperity, whatever that means to them. By making our Owners better off we know Libro and our communities will be better off as well. It all ties back to our purpose. By providing our Owners with great service and advice they will invest more with Libro. This allows Libro to continue to provide great coaching, services and profit sharing back to our Owners and invest in our communities where we live, work and play. 

Emily Strybosch