Photo Credits: Mat Helme on Dribble

Introduction

I was discussing with a friend lately and he told me an amazing story. He told me about a senior engineer who was presented with a very complex problem, and after hours of pushing a lot of code he got fed up and gave a detailed report of how hard working he has been in days and unable to get the problem solved. The response of his manager was simple. This was the response:
You are not paid to write code, you are paid to solve problems’.
This response got me thinking deeply and I started to see myself more as a problem solver than as a developer.

Virtually every day as a developer or designer, we are presented with a new challenge or problem and our job is to solve them.

All problems have their own solutions, we can’t always use the same generic solution for every problem, however, we can approach every problem with a step by step process, hence the 4Ps of problem-solving.

Though this article was initially written for developers and designers, if you’re not a techie don’t worry you’ll find this very helpful and I’ve also edited its content to help you understand its concepts, trust me you’ll find this article helpful and you’ll soon see you can apply this in your career or pursuit of success.

The 4Ps

  1. Plan
  2. Prepare
  3. Produce
  4. Perfect

We’ll be taking Kayode as a case study in this article, Kayode wants to build an app that links shoe cobblers to potential clients in his area.

Plan

Understand the problem you are solving for. Until a problem is well defined, you cannot clearly state what you are solving for. It’s in the planning phase you ask all the necessary questions.

Let’s say I have a client who wants to build a product, the major questions I should be asking should be centred around what problem they are trying to solve for. A deep understanding of an existing problem is crucial for coming up with a solution.

I read an article on forbes.com recently by Meetesh Karia, he is the CTO at The Zebra Insurance, he paid a visit to Andela Nigeria, he was super impressed by the fact that the devs did not just ask Him about their technical needs but they grilled deep about the company and team culture, this is an example of someone who understands the fact that a deep knowledge of what you are going into is essential for success, you can read the article here.

The planning phase, in summary, is the phase where you ask questions and gather information.

Remember Kayode our case study? In this phase, he’ll gather the information of the estimate of the service providers (shoe cobblers) in his area, information about potentials clients, information of existing solutions, pricing, and what not, all these Kayode would properly document.

Prepare

Get all the resources you need to get the task done in this phase. You can do this by acquiring the skills you need, hiring the experts you need, talk to those who can help. As a software developer, very often we always have to jump on a new product and sometimes it involves an entirely new technology, the preparation phase requires that we read the documentation, watch online tutorials and also speak to those who can help us.

Battles are not won on the battlefield, battles are won even before the war began. Preparation is essential before phasing the giant that stands between you and your goals.

Kayode happens to be a very shy and timid young man, part of what he has to work on in his preparation phase includes his soft skills like communication, writing, public speaking, relationship building, etc. This is very important because he’ll soon have to pitch his product at hackathons, meet with potential clients/investors and would have to explain his business ideas and strategies to them.

Produce

The next step is to start taking actions. You see, the best time to launch that product was yesterday. We would lose out on great opportunities if we drag our feet.

Write and submit the proposal, apply for that funding, open up your laptop and start writing that code, open up InVision and start that design.

Have you ever had an idea or concept and never acted on it, and years later you read on the internet that someone else is playing out the realities of your ideas. It’s important we try, push through even if you fail.

In this phase, Kayode would have to take actions. Here he gathers a team of coders, product managers and marketers and they start building out this incredible idea and release it to the market.

Perfect

Ideas, features, products, etc do not start out perfect. I remember reading about the design progress of Facebook, some features we have on facebook today were not part of the initial plan, features like the facebook wall came in along the way.

Kayode has released His product to the market, that is not the end of his journey, in fact, it’s just the beginning.

He’ll have to add features along the way as the product becomes bigger.

Conclusion

This article talked about the 4Ps of problem-solving as it relates to someone trying to build a product, you can apply these principles to other areas of life. It could be a career path, a dream, a vision you have, a girl you wanna date (lol, just kidding). This systematic way of attacking a problem/challenge has proven effective.

Thanks for reading and please share if you find this article eductive. winks