Solvers identify challenges, then test and develop new concepts, code, and inventions to meet their needs. They work on a problem with a singular focus because their life – or the life of a loved one – often depends on their ability to find or invent a solution. Some Solvers openly share their designs online for other people to build on. Others keep their cards close to their vests, working inside regulatory and corporate structures.
Solvers attack problems.
This is the third post in a series that I’m writing to introduce the archetypes of the patient-led revolution (for my forthcoming book from MIT Press). The first post focused on Seekers. The second: Networkers. Today: Solvers.
Here’s what Solvers shared when I asked what advice they would give to others like themselves:
Stay angry. Channel that energy toward creating a solution. Write a manifesto. What are the worst aspects of the challenge you face? What would you change first, if you could?
Start building what you think should exist. Test it. Show people prototypes made out of cardboard, crayons, and sticky notes. Watch to see who finds it useful. What do they find valuable? Build up those features. What do they hate – or ignore? Fix those glitches fast. If you are also a Networker, leverage the lead users in your community to get expert feedback.
The ability to make constant, small improvements is an immense advantage over established companies who may be working on similar projects. Take advantage.
Solvers need resources. Which means you need investors and partners. Which means you need to learn how to pitch your ideas to both believers, who are excited about the future, and those who are more cautious. Create two pitch decks – one for the evangelists and the other for skeptics. Always be ready to switch gears, if necessary.
Now, your turn. If you are a Solver, please share some tips for people who have a fantastic product or service idea, but are not sure what to do next. How did you get started? What mistakes did you make? What were some of your lucky breaks — and how might you guide a fellow Solver toward that ladder?
(And yes, I intend to use these comments in my book or further articles about peer health innovation, so thank you in advance for your help!)
Image: Sharpest tool in the shed, by Lachlan Donald on Flickr.
Fran Lo says
Never underestimate the power of persistence. Be the squeaky wheel.
Susannah Fox says
Yes! Love that word “persistence.” Thank you.
Ramin Bastani says
Loving these and forwarding them to each archetypes I know!
Susannah Fox says
Thank you!! And please let them know: the conversation is never over and comments are always open.
Maureen O’Connor says
Great article Susannah!
Stay vigilant about putting the patient at the center. Demand more from the system that, honestly, was designed with other stakeholders in mind—not the patient. Use testimonials to demonstrate the product or service experience from the patient’s perspective. Keep collecting patient/user feedback and keep iterating your product and service to incorporate that feedback.
We are all health care consumers. Wear your consumer hat in addition to your entrepreneur-problem solver hat. With the strains of the pandemic and labor shortages in healthcare, it’s tempting to make excuses for a poor patient experience. Don’t allow excuses. Call out the instances in which the patient is not being treated with the care and respect they deserve and praise those in the system who go above and beyond to create a great experience. This last point is important. Don’t just harp on the negative; highlight the great and build upon it.
Susannah Fox says
Yes! Solvers are working on all kinds of problems — hardware, service delivery, care coordination, clinical trial innovation — and the patients’ needs have GOT to be at the center of it all. Your comment captures why I find the patient-led revolution so exciting. They reject the status quo and attack the problem they see in front of them, not waiting for permission or to be invited.