Good Problems Playbook

We work with funders to design problem-led funding programmes.

Why start with a good problem?

Resources are limited – whether it’s time, money, facilities or skills. Problems are not. So it’s important to make sure that available resources are used to solve problems that matter.

Whether you are a grant-making organisation or a VC fund, designing a programme around a good problem can have many advantages. For one, you’re playing an active role in defining priorities in your field. And you are not doing this in isolation. You’re doing it by engaging with domain experts and potential solvers to understand where the biggest impact can be achieved.

Identifying a good problem

From local problems to global challenges, the abundance of problems can make it seem like if you focus on solving any problem it will likely to be of some use to someone. But when you’re dealing with limited resources and a growing pressure to demonstrate impact, identifying a good problem becomes essential.

Understanding a community of solvers

For each good problem identified we try to understand the skills, resources, and collaborations needed to solve it. It’s not only important to understand the needs of those already working on the problem (or closely related problems), but also to understand how new sets of skills, ideas and perspectives could be brought together to create new solutions.

Designing an incentivisation approach

There are many ways to incentivise problem-solving: funding calls, challenge prizes, hackathons, sandpits, to name a few. Some are established approaches, other less so. So how do you design an approach that best matches the problem, the needs of a community of solvers, and resources of a funding organisation?