Not only is there a correlation between your ability to find problems and your long-term success, there is also a relationship with the potential of your business endeavour.
In research done more than 50 years ago and published in the book The Creative Vision, doctors Jacob Getzels and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at the University of Chicago demonstrated that people who focused on finding problems (problem-finders) were more successful in their creative endeavours than those who focused on solving problems (problem-solvers).
Their test was to have a group of art students draw a still life from a selection of ordinary objects. The resulting drawings were then evaluated by a group of art experts.
They found that the students that spent more of their time considering which objects to include in their drawing and how those objects were arranged — the problem-finders — had been ranked much higher in creativity than the students that focused on drawing first.
Ten years later, the researchers tracked down these art students and found that about half had left the art world, while the other half had gone on to become professional artists. That latter group was composed almost entirely of problem-finders.
Another decade later, the researchers checked in again and discovered that the problem-finders were significantly more successful than the problem-solvers.
Much like in art, a problem-finding orientation in business can be the difference between long-term success and failure.
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