Solving for Discomfort: Avoiding the Road to Nowhere

At this point, it borders on trite to remark upon the positive impact of tech on our lives. The Internet has become the place where—increasingly—communication, entertainment, commerce and business happens. In this context, it is easy to become enamored of the potential and power of the platforms, the apps, the tools and the data that tech puts in our reach.

Digital technology gives us the opportunity to produce results grounded in data. And on behalf of clients, as professional service providers, we often work toward goals that are designed to signal success, when met. Within the context of digital marketing, that might look like a certain number of leads—or the cost per conversion (CPC)—over time.

In the world created by Google and Facebook, the accessibility of data and the capacity to produce results based on metrics is a seductive trap. Here’s the thing: we can hit the goal and still be nowhere.


Selling goal-based solutions and solving for a goal is great! You get to meet or exceed the goals. You take action and produce outcomes! Here are your leads! Here is your CPC!


The marketplace is flooded with technical solutions that pre-define both the problem and the targeted outcomes, and are sold on that basis. If the provided solution is not actually solving a problem—not addressing a source of discomfort—the outcomes produced may very well be without impact.

Solving for discomfort is dramatically different in both outcomes and impact—and takes you down a very different road.

Solving for discomfort not only grounds the goal in a larger vision for the engagement, but also verifies that vision. In reality, we can’t even articulate that vision for a desired outcome without truly understanding the thing that needs to change.

Solving for discomfort also dramatically changes the conversation. Instead of talking about deliverables and price per outcome, we can speak to the value that is created when the current issue is resolved and the goal achieved.

We often think of tech as a net positive. But without strong discernment, relying on data flows and their source algorithms can result in wasted time and effort—blinding us to potential opportunities and reinforcing habitual patterns of action and thinking that do not serve our actual goals.