The difference between an inspiring and a non-inspiring opportunity often comes down to the way they are phrased. This article gives you several tips to help you create opportunity statements that will inspire people right away.
In this article we cover 6 tips to make your opportunities as inspiring as possible
#1 Write opportunities so that they finish the question: ‘How might we …?’
How-might-we questions are often used in design thinking as input for brainstorming sessions. A good opportunity should spark many different ideas right away if you put ‘how might we’ in front of it. We call that the ‘how-might-we’ test. As an example:
How might we…
- ensure more people pay their taxes before the deadline?
- help employees stay productive and healthy when working from home?
- make customers feel that their information is safe and secure when creating an account?
Not only does this help you to create inspiring opportunities, it also helps to keep their phrasing consistent.
#2 Focus your opportunities on the root problems of your customers
Make sure your opportunities focus on root customer problems, instead of desired outcomes or symptoms of those problems. A good tip is to ask ‘why’. For example; if you’re trying to get helpdesk calls down, try to solve the problem of why users are calling the helpdesk, not the calling itself.
This often requires research into your customers and clustering of your insight into core problem areas. To make it extra clear how an opportunity links to your customer experience, include references to underlying customers needs, pain points, or other insights in the detailed opportunity description. To validate your opportunities further, review and prioritize them with your customers by asking them which would create the most value for them. Questionnaires or card sorting are ideal research methods to do this.
#3 Avoid suggesting solutions in your opportunities
Make sure you don’t embed solutions in the description of your opportunities. Doing so restricts the pool of possible solutions that an opportunity generates. You can do the how-might-we test on the example below: If you turn them into how-might-we questions, the second opportunity inspires many more solutions than the first one.
#4 Keep your opportunities broad, yet specific to the root problem
Phrase your opportunities broadly enough to inspire multiple solutions, but specific enough that you don’t lose sight of the root problem you’re trying to solve. Always ask yourself; Can I phrase the opportunity more broadly, or more specifically? This will help you to find the level of specificity that inspires the most solutions. Here too, the how-might-we test can help you pinpoint that sweet spot.
#5 Phrase your opportunities positively
Stating your opportunity questions positively can generate more solutions and also encourages creativity when you use opportunities as starting points for generating solutions.
#6 Make sure your opportunities are ‘MECE’: Mutually Exclusive, yet Collectively Exhaustive.
After you’ve created several opportunities, it’s time to make sure that as a group they are ‘MECE’: ‘Mutually Exclusive’ means that every opportunity is distinctly separate and does not overlap other opportunities, while ‘Collectively Exhaustive’ means that together they cover all important root problems. Making sure your opportunities are MECE will greatly help you down the line to prioritize them and use them to generate distinctly different solutions that cover all important root problems.
Other things to keep in mind
For the cherry on top, here’s a few things we’ve seen TheyDo experts do:
- Check for similar opportunities before you create a new one in order to avoid duplicates.
- Label opportunities to help you and others find your opportunity and filter them.
- Aim for 5 to 8 opportunities per project in order to keep the number of opportunities manageable.
- Add visuals to make your opportunities even more inspiring.
Want to know if you have done it right? Use this checklist to quickly check if your opportunities are as effective as they can be.
☐ Finishes the question ‘How might we …?
☐ Is inspiring to come up with different solutions right away
☐ Focuses on a root-cause problem
☐ Does not suggest any solutions
☐ Is defined broadly enough to be understood by most people
☐ Is framed in a positive way
☐ Is mutually exclusive, yet collectively exhaustive (MECE)
☐ Doesn’t have any existing duplicates in TheyDo
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