Design Decisions Guide

Problems and Solutions


An important question to ask yourself now is whether you are aiming to explore/reframe a problem, or develop a new solution to a problem, or both! Getting to the root cause of a perceived problem or looking at a known problem from a new angle can help decision-makers challenge and often redefine their assumptions about a problem, and in so doing shed light on new opportunities for solving it.

Within many design processes, problem and solution spaces are often articulated through the 'double diamond' framework. The problem space is about 'designing the right thing' while the solution space is about 'designing the thing right'. In each space, there is a journey of divergent thinking - spontaneous, broad, non-linear — and then convergent thinking — narrowing, analytic, linear. The problem space usually focuses on (re)discovering and (re)framing the challenges experienced by people you are designing for, and then converging on opportunities to address these challenges. The solution space usually focuses on prototyping a variety of potential concepts that are more responsive to the needs of the user(s) in a specific context and iteratively testing them toward a defined solution.

Double diamond diagram showing 4 phases of the design process Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. The image is divided into halves A: Explore or reframe the problem and B: Develop a solution

Do you aim to explore a problem or reframe a problem and/or develop a solution to a problem?

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Explore or reframe the problem

We sometimes fail to uncover what the users’ actual problems are or where the real opportunities lie from their perspective...

Program officer

Develop a solution

If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solutions.

Albert Einstein