The smartest people know how to take something extremely complex and explain it simply. Most do the opposite, adding complexity into simple concepts.

This is especially true when defining a business problem.

Some of the most valuable businesses have originated from a succint definition of user problems. Instagram is a good example. It started off by trying to solve 3 key issues with mobile photos - they had crappy quality (therefore filters), were hard to share (therefore feed), and took a long time to share (therefore size limitations). Those three key features - filters, a fixed photo size, and feed - were critical to Instagram’s success. The funny thing is the originating problems no longer exist to the same degree, and those features are no longer the only critical part of the Instagram experience.

It’s useful to take a customer focused lens. Knowing your customer is a great compass. It’s also useful to start with a painpoint versus an aspiration. Negativity creates more action; people are more likely to adopt products that solve real problems they can relate to.

A well defined user problem can bring a team together. When everyone carries the same mental model for who the user is and what their needs are, alignment follows closely. It’s also a great way to encourage innovation across an organization.

Before building something no one wants, spend time simplifying the problem. It will pay off in the long run.