The Problem Prioritisation Tool

You might have identified a number of different problems, but which one is worth focusing on? Use this tool to help you effectively prioritise between problems and identify the biggest opportunities.

Source: Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Review

How to use this tool

Oftentimes, entrepreneurs work on solving problems that aren’t big enough. Customers might realise there is a problem, but they are more or less happy with how they deal with it already.

If you have a number of problems you have identified, you can use this tool to help you determine which problem is actually worth solving.

Just ask people these two questions:

  1. How important is it for you to do what your solution does?
  2. How satisfied are you by existing solutions to this?

Once you have the answers, simply plot them onto the above chart. If the average person scored importance a 7 and satisfaction a 5, then they are more or less happy with existing solutions.

However, if they gave importance a 9 and satisfaction a 3, then there are opportunities to deliver something above and beyond what already exists.

The further away answers are from the triangle, the greater the opportunity. You want to look for over-served and under-served customers, not served right customers.

Customers are over-served:
For example, a 5-year old would be over-served by a bicycle with 20 gears and mountain ready tyres that sells for $1,000. They would be much better served by a small bicycle with no gears and training wheels that sells for $50.

Customers are under-served:
A professional mountain bike rider would be under-served by a BMX, because it doesn’t have gears, suspension, manoeuvrability and the tyre tread that’s required to scale mountains. As such, they would be willing to pay more for a bike with more proverbial ‘bells and whistles’.

Customers are served right:
A high school student who needs to get to school and likes to hit the half-pipe at the skatepark on weekends is served just right by a BMX.