Creating an Actionable Problem Statement

Creating an actionable problem statement

Purpose Of the Guide

This guide will take you through how to create an actionable problem statement in order to generate a greater quantity and higher quality solutions when you start generating ideas during ideation sessions.


Defining your design challenge is probably one of the most important steps in the design thinking process as it sets the tone and guides all of the activities that follow.

In the define stage, you should end up creating an actionable problem statement which is commonly known as the point of view (POV) in design thinking. Base your point Of view on a deeper understanding of your specific users, their needs, and your most essential insights about them.

Your POV should never contain any specific solution, nor should it contain any indication as to how to fulfill your users’ needs in the service, experience, or product you are designing. Instead, your POV should provide a wide enough scope for you and your team to start thinking about solutions which go beyond status quo.

Here, you will also learn to frame and open up your point of view, which is the axis that design thinking revolves around – a challenge well-framed is half solved.


1. Define the Type of Person You Are Designing For – Your User

Select the most essential needs which are the most important to fulfill.

Work to express the insights developed through the synthesis of your gathered information.

2. Write Your Definitions Into a Point of View Template


An adult person who lives in a cityTo use a car for 10-60 minutes 1-4 trips per weekThe user would not want to own a car as it would be too expensive compared to his needs. He would like to share a car with others who have similar needs. However, there are no easy and affordable solutions for him. It is important for the user to think and live green and to not own more than he truly needs.

3. Create a Point of View Mad Lib

You can articulate a POV by combining these three elements – user, need, and insight – as an actionable problem statement that will drive the rest of your design work.

It is surprisingly easy when you insert your findings in the POV Madlib below.

You can articulate your POV by inserting information about your user, the needs, and your insights in the following sentence:

[User . . . (descriptive)] needs [Need . . . (verb)] because [Insight . . . (compelling)]


An adult person who lives in the city… needs access to a shared car 1-4 times for 10-60 minutes per week … because he would rather share a car with more people as this is cheaper, more environmentally friendly, however it should still be easy for more people to share.

4. Make Sure That Your Point of View Meets the Requirements

Your POV should:

  • provide a narrow focus,
  • frame the problem as a problem statement,
  • inspire your team,
  • guide your innovation efforts,
  • inform criteria for evaluating competing ideas,
  • capture people’s attention, and
  • be valid, insightful, actionable, unique, narrow, meaningful, and exciting