Why Are We Trained To Solve Problems, But Not To Identify Those?

November 25, 2012 2:18 pm

Anyone who tracks startups knows these two conflicting facts:

1. Ideas are not everything – execution is key
2. It is extremely important to solve a problem that people would find value in, and therefore pay for.

Summary: It is of course important to execute well and solve the problem, but the starting point is to know if the problem is worth getting solved.

Now look at our education system through this new prism – the flaw comes out very, very clearly – the system today teaches problem solving, applying theory to practice etc – but there is little to no emphasis on “identifying” problems. Think about your own school / college days for a second – in how many instances were you given a situation, and were asked to “identify” problems to solve?

The problem to be solved was always STATED – nobody ever asked us to come up with a set of difficult problems to solve.

Over time, this lack of practice in identifying problems translates into difficulties in spotting profitable opportunities. Even if we do, there is a lack
of conviction and we end up pivoting multiple times.

Our education system cultivates employees, not employers – to be one, you need to be trained not only to solve a problem, but more importantly, to identify one.

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