A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze. As we all know, Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. It was such a successful venture, that right after turning down an offer by Facebook, it was bought by Google for $966 million dollars.
When I sat in front of him, and knowing that in Guatemala 80% of the 21 million active cell phones use Waze, there was but one specific question lingering around in my head: How can someone create such an app which is globally accepted and embraced by its users? His answer was so simple, it even was printed on his T-Shirt: “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”.
The passion with which Uri repeats this mantra leaves no room for doubts that it is the base on which he laid the foundation of every single project he’s ever done. He himself explains so at the same time as he insists. We must fall in love with the problem, not its solution. He explains that we need to feel the problem to the point of being focused all the time on what everybody else is running from. We must be focused on that which is everybody else’s headache. As long as we keep our senses set on a problem which is worthy of being solved, we will logically stay motivated until we find the best way to deal with it.
Sometimes we think that we can battle said issue by attacking it from several different angles at the same time, and that this way we might conquer it and not have to deal with it anymore. What this does is simply putting the problem to sleep for a while until it arises once again, but this time, bigger and stronger. What we have to do is to just recognize the root of said situation and use our tools focused on it. This way, without realizing it, one day we may have tamed the problem and become able to use it for our users’ own good. We will be able to use it better than any other person who is merely trying to eradicate it.
An essential part of this modus operandi, is to really learn to understand who your users are, and mainly, what is their perception of the problem. In several occasions we just want to solve our own conflicts and this might not be interesting for the rest of the people. Sometimes it might not even pose as a conflict for them. If you find a group of people which share the same perception of a predicament, everything becomes interesting. A whole new gamma of possibilities opens up where you can cause a huge impact.
He also mentioned that sadly in Latin America people are way too afraid of failure, and that if we are afraid of failing, we have already failed since we will not force ourselves the same way towards success. The one solution to avoid such dilemma, as he puts it, is to “ Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”.