There was a not so recent past in which ideas were turned into products and then products would be sold to users by selling them on the notion that they had a problem they didn’t realize they had. The work was convincing the users that the problem was real.
Product then Pitch then Problem then User.
These days, that’s a tougher trick to pull off. In the era of Google and Amazon user reviews—products that don’t really fix problems don’t last very long. Pitches that don’t resonate with real problems, even petty problems, aren’t going to survive in a world of so much choice.
In this new world (which I’d argue is very much like the old world when we bought solutions from people instead of from infomercials) the process has to be inverted:
User then Problem then Product then—if necessary— the Pitch.
Those who practice creativity have understood this since the beginning of time. If you want to create something of real value you have to start from something that comes from real meaning and real need.
Hamlet, the iPhone, Doctors Without Borders—they all started with real human need and let the work unveil itself from there.
Work that matters starts with humans. Great ideas that are going to make a difference begin with keen observations of each other as people and communities.