How to Write an Innovation Problem Statement that Solves Itself

A problem statement has two primary objectives: to describe an issue and to guide the scope of its resolution. They’re brief, but they still manage to provide context and relevance. Various industries utilize them for research purposes, but they have proven exceptionally useful in innovation management. Below, we’ll guide you through your exploration of the innovation problem statement—from creation to implementation. Hope you packed snacks.

What Is an Innovation Problem Statement?

In layman’s terms, it is simply the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a proposed solution. Let’s take a moment to thank all the laymen out there for giving us an excuse to drop the corporate jargon and get to the point. There are four key elements to an innovation problem statement:

  1. Identify and define the problem - Here’s where you identify the who and the what. Aside from stating the problem itself, you’re going to have to provide some context here. An innovation problem statement differs from ordinary problem statements because it must also outline the benefit of your involvement. Does this problem affect your target market or have the potential to create a new market?
  2. Describe the consequences of the specific problem - Now, you can move on to establishing the when and where. Establish the negative impact of the situation. Not to go all meta on you, but why is your problem a problem? Negative consequences may solely affect the consumer, but they may also interfere with business goals. For example, if another company decides to resolve this problem, could it siphon market share from our business?
  3. State the objective - Your company knows the “why” behind your products or services. But do consumers out there truly resonate with it? What do you aim to achieve in addressing the issue? This component of the innovation problem statement requires innovation managers to paint a picture of their ideal outcome. Try to visualize what resolution would look like rather than how you aim to resolve.
  4. Set up for the proposal - Remember how I told you not to describe your means of resolution yet? That’s because you’ll need to save all the gritty details for the proposal of your solution. You’ve set the scene in regard to what the ideal resolution will look like. Now you just need to show your work. How do you plan to resolve the problem? Remember, having an implementation strategy is crucial. We will get back to this later.


Why Do Innovation Leaders Need a Problem Statement?

Using a problem statement to guide solutions is integral to innovation management. The most important thing to remember when guiding an organization’s innovation efforts is that it won’t be linear. It will be more like a series of trial and error. If innovation were as simple as coming up with an idea and making it happen, everyone and their mother would be doing it. 

Enterprise-level innovation requires a high level of commitment and collaboration, paired with an airtight business innovation process. Ensuring that your organization doesn’t lose sight of the goal is essential. In part, this is why an innovation problem statement must be accessible and transparent. It will serve as a constant reminder for employees to align their thinking with the primary goal. 


How to Write an Effective Innovation Problem Statement 

Since a problem statement will guide the sheer scope of your innovation efforts, it must be precise and impactful. Like throwing an ax! Except, the kind of open-mindedness we’re striving for doesn’t involve a potential trip to the emergency room. Consider filling out the template below based on the four elements of an innovation problem statement above. 

Innovation Problem Statement Formula: 

How can we [objective] for [consumer] in order to solve [problem] and avoid [consequences].

The Innovation Manager’s Guide to Problem Statements

The definition provided above will help you ensure that your innovation problem statement meets all the requirements. But why stop there? Meeting requirements gets the job done, but exceeding them gets it done well. rready’s KICKBOOK provides an in-depth walkthrough for crafting the ideal innovation problem statement.

For those who haven’t gained access to the KICKBOOK yet, don’t sweat it. Check out the video below. Then, we’ll walk you through an example. Check us out to get your hands on the real thing.



An Innovation Problem Statement Example

Let’s look at an example of a good innovation problem statement that checks all the boxes: “How can we provide the tools to help people drive meaningful innovation without wasting resources?” 

  • Has the problem been identified?

The portion of the problem statement that says “help people” indicates that people need assistance in facilitating intrapreneurship. 

  • Do we know the negative effects of the problem?

The end of this problem statement reads, “...without wasting resources.” This indicates that resource waste is a negative effect of failed innovation efforts. 

  • Is the objective clearly stated?

Although identifying the problem often implies the objective, it’s vital to ensure it is clearly stated. In this example, “drive meaningful innovation” indicates that meaningful innovation is the end goal. 

  • Did the problem statement effectively set up for transitioning into a solution?

The innovation problem statement above includes the phrase “provide the tools.” Therefore, it can be deduced that the solution will require the organization to provide a product or service.


Solving Your Innovation Problem With rready

Every company is different, but there’s no denying that innovation managers of all kinds face similar setbacks. Your innovation problem statement should indeed serve as your guiding light. Still, the right tools and management methods must be there to support it. Making your problem statement accessible should be the gateway to a more transparent process overall. 

At rready, we approach inclusivity by providing each member of your organization with a tangible toolkit for innovation—The KICKBOX. It guides employees through the complicated innovation process while simultaneously strengthening their relationship with your organization. The KICKBOX methodology facilitates the implementation process focusing on idea implementation, not only ideation. This is accomplished through coaching but supported by technology—because innovation management takes more than just consultations.


You bring the problems, and we’ll help you build your next solution. Contact us to connect with one of rready's innovation experts today. 

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