What problem are you solving? If you can’t clearly describe why you are working, then you should take a moment to reflect. Defining a problem and being able to explain how and why your efforts are making a difference are what differentiates effective people from those who are not.

The framework that defines your problem is the lens through which one examines the parts and pieces of your issue. It can also enable one to slice through large quantities of data and zero in on specific information or factors influencing your problem. Without being able to trim away what is not needed, it is difficult to make progress.

A key part of working with a framework is being able to step away which allows one to see the big picture. Seeing information and testing ideas at both the macro and micro scales helps one to see if solutions really are integrated and relevant at various layers of the system in which you are working.

Frameworks for analyzing problems are really just the place to start the creative process. It can be a good way for people breakdown a problem into digestible and easy to understand parts that can then be analyzed in their own right.

Real creativity starts when you begin to experiment and test ideas against the constraints that you are facing such as time or a tight budget. Constraints may also be cultural, technological, or even based on someone’s perception of the problem that is being solved. The role of the designer is to understand and break through barriers, and create a solution that integrates the concerns of the customer.

The best and most unique solutions will arise when designers understand the deep issues that are affecting a client. Constant experimentation to find what works will validate one’s ideas and help refine the product that you are creating.

Designing for the sake of designing is an endless loop. Design play is a necessary part of developing new techniques and experimenting with new ideas, but it can only take you so far. When you are forced to start balancing the needs of the customer, then you will begin to make progress in your development as a thinker-doer and in the creation of effective solutions.

Design gets real when you are addressing real problems affecting people. Creating products, because you can, is just folly.

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