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Knee Pads vs Packing Tables.

This interesting anecdote about Amazon is sourced from the book – The Bezos Letters. Two men experiencing the same pain point but had two different solutions to it. 

The pain point was a result of constant kneeling and the natural instinct was to get rid of this pain. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, went with the straightforward solution – get knee pads. Yes, this would solve his knee pain but it was also a tactical solution rather than a strategic one.

The real user need in this scenario was the ability to pack the boxes in the most comfortable and efficient way. This is what makes the packing table idea a better solution compared to the knee pads option. 

Jeff Bezos quickly realised that packing tables was a better strategic solution for the packers and dropped his own idea in favour of it.

I work as a user researcher and my job is to talk to users to unpack their needs and pain points. I then work with the product team to come up with product solutions to address these user needs and pain points. It is very easy to gravitate towards “knee pad” product solutions which meet the tactical needs of some users. The challenge is to come up with strategic “packing table” product solutions for the majority of users. 

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