Going Fast Is Not The Whole Answer

Velocity or speed

Every science student has been ordered to know the difference between speed and velocity. Speed is scalar. Just a number. Velocity has the same number but with a vector for direction. When you think about it, the Ontario Provincial Police are right. Speed kills.

In business it doesn’t matter so much how fast you go, but it does matter your direction.

Absent thought about purpose, direction, strategy and more, you end up in the old joke category. “We are hopelessly lost, but we’re making good time.”

Defining the problem better helps keep the velocity aspect in place.

Something to read

The spring version of my University of Waterloo Alumni magazine arrived this past week and it has an interesting article.

A Lab With No Solutions

The Problem Lab

Professor Larry Smith is the director of “The Problem Lab.” Its purpose is to help young entrepreneurs improve the odds of their success. Professor Smith has a long history of helping students find their way. You could watch his TED Talk here.

The lab’s outlook and methodology applies well to everyone, even established businesses.

Solutions are not the answer for this lab. They want the problem known first. to that end they offer five questions:

Consider the history.

Who is affected? How much? How loudly are people complaining? For how long? The idea is to find ways to “Take the game up a notch.” Smith is not in favour of best practices but wants disruptive solutions.


Know the problem’s environment. What attrributes affect it. Be sure the problem is big enough to matter when a solution is found.

Failure analysis

Few visible problems have no failed solutions alongside them. Find out what was tried and why it failed. There is little advantage to reinventing a failed solution. There is even less to inventing a solution to no known problem or one with a tiny market.


Who cares about the problem? Some solutions cannot scale because the cost to add incremental customers is quite large. Governments and business can scale because they have the resources to implement. If success analysis were considered, Salesforce would be a good example of scaling through the large entity model.


Find the key problem. Most problems are a collection rather than a monolith. Sometimes the key problem is not visible from the surface. Looking deeper and ignoring the accepted wisdom is the key. Why does Amazon Prime exist? Because customers don’t like paying for delivery. A non-intuitive definition of a sales restricting factor.

The Problem Lab is doing “shockingly well.”

As you might expect. Clearly defined and well-researched problems lend themselves to creative and comprehensive solutions. Read the article and give the idea some thought.

Who knew questions mattered more than answers?

I help business owners, professionals, and others understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages to acquire more efficient income and larger, more liquid estates.

In previous careers, I have been a partner in a large, international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you. don@moneyfyi.com 705-927-4770

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