project problem definition prompt

Project: Problem Definition Prompt and Rubric

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Context:

This problem definition is the first part of your DeVILS project, where you will be creating a conceptual design that would solve the problem you have defined in this assignment. You will be going through the design process and using the techniques discussed in class to arrive at your solution. You should use the results of the assessments to improve your problem definition and lists of criteria and requirements before including them in the final DeVILS Proposal Presentation submission.

This problem definition is the first part of your DeVILS project, where you will be creating a conceptual design that would solve the problem you have defined in this assignment. You will be going through the design process and using the techniques discussed in class to arrive at your solution. If you are on the Credit Eligible Track, this will be your first assignment assessed by our content experts, according to the rubric provided below. If you are not on the Credit Eligible Track, you will use this rubric for self-assessment. You should use the results of the assessments to improve your problem definition and lists of criteria and requirements before including them in the final DeVILS Proposal Presentation submission.

Prompt:

Think about a problem you are interested in solving. This could be anything, but think of something that you are familiar with. You may find you have to do some research online to better understand the problem and learn what has already been done to solve it. At this point, you should have already been talking with other students in the class about common interests. These conversations can be fertile areas for problems that may need to be solved and customers to serve. To truly embrace the entrepreneurial mindset, you will need to interview several people that can provide you with insights and ideas to help define your problem or come up with an idea altogether (as it really should be by finding real life pain points). You can find these people from the online discussion boards or from connections around you.

Instructions:

For this assignment, you will define a problem definition statement for an issue of your choosing. You first need to conduct two interviews with two different people (using any medium of your choosing) to help solidify a hypothesized problem and customer needs. You can approach these interviews from a guided standpoint where you gain feedback on a proposed problem that you are passionate about or you can conduct the interview by searching for pain points from your participants to aid in defining a new problem you hadn’t realized. Be sure to take notes during your interviews, and learn as much about your interviewees as possible; they are your customer archetypes. After the interview, start your assignment by defining your two customer archetypes in as much detail as possible.

Now that you have a better idea of what potential customers have identified as wanting improved, write your problem definition statement. Make sure you do not include a potential solution at this time. Identify as many aspects of the problem as possible from standpoints of different users.

Next, you should write one or two POV statements using the guidelines in the Problem Definition lecture (one or two sentences per item in the POV statement). These POV statements should be based on the interviewed customers that used to define your customer archetypes. Be sure to consider both users and payers and clearly distinguish between them if needed. The better you define the problem, the more value you will be able to create for your customers when you finish your design.

You should also define a list of requirements and a list of criteria, outlining the constraints both for solutions to the problem and for what comprises a “good” solution” for consumers, respectively. Your requirements and criteria should be as specific and quantitative as possible, and focus on the needs (in the case of requirements) and wants (in the case of criteria) of your potential customers. For requirements, consider what your design must do. When developing your criteria, think about how your customer will be evaluating the different design options and make sure to include these as criteria. You should have at least 5 different requirements and 5 different criteria.

Also, as a part of this assignment, include a 2-3 paragraph reflection on how your research and interviews with others (peers or those outside of the class) affected your problem statement, criteria, and requirements. Who did you talk to? What were some of the key insights that you gained from your interviews? Who else might you want to talk to? What additional information might you need to solve your problem? What value do you see in actually talking with lots of potential customers before designing your product/service?

To summarize, your assignment will include:

  • Customer archetype information (from 2 interviews)
  • Problem definition statement
  • POV statement(s) (at least 1 but could have more)
  • List of criteria (at least 5 but could have more)
  • List of Requirement (at least 5 but could have more)
  • 2-3 paragraph reflection
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