Some processes see “Problem Definition” as inclusive to the “Idea generation and capture” phase, but it is valuable to see this as a separate activity. While Market Scanning deals with keeping a pulse on the general evolution of the market, the Problem Definition phase deals with finding concrete problems that are worthwhile to be solved. This does not mean that the problem already has to be fully understood. The “Idea generation and capture” phase, is responsible for coming up with solutions for problems, but at the same time for further elaborating on the problems.
Even though in IPACSO “Problem Definition” is considered a separate activity, many of the same techniques can be used as the ones described in the “Idea Generation and Capture” activity. But, in this step, perhaps even more so than in the Idea generation and capture activity, it is necessary to actually talk to potential customers. Where the Market Scanning activity should give a good overview of the general problem areas that are relevant in the PaCS space, these problem areas have to be turned into concrete, actionable problems in the Problem Definition activity. In this, the customer holds all the answers.
The discipline of Design Thinking provides processes and tools, many of which are customer orientated, to iteratively create solutions to specific problems. Methods for design thinking can include interviewing, creating user profiles, mind mapping and situational analysis.
With respect to the formal methods defined in “Idea generation and capture” that are relevant for the Problem Definition activity we can identify the “Problem Mapping” method, some parts of the 1H5W method and the “Mind mapping” method (if practised along with potential customers and focusing on the problem rather than the solution). But again, the best way is to get out of your building and communicate directly with potential customers.