How to: Opportunity Solution Trees

Or why mapping out the problem space is so important.

Modern product discovery is a messy challenge that requires discovering opportunities and discovering solutions.

While most teams can articulate how to connect the dots between opportunities and solutions, they often struggle to do so in practice. In this article, I want to give you

  • why I love to use Opportunity Solution Trees
  • some useful ways to get started.

And I'll cover what OSTs (=Opportunity Solution Trees) even are.

If you are looking for a way to get started growing your Opportunity Solution Tree today - I have a (free) template for Notion and Coda respectively.

Problem-solving is an essential skill in both personal and professional settings. It requires critical thinking, creativity, and decision-making abilities to identify and solve complex problems. One effective tool for problem-solving is the Opportunity Solution Tree (OST). This framework is useful for breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components and identifying potential solutions. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using OSTs and how they can improve problem-solving.

What is an Opportunity Solution Tree?

An Opportunity Solution Tree is a graphical tool that maps out the potential opportunities and solutions for a particular problem. It is a visual representation that helps individuals or teams to explore the different aspects of a problem and come up with innovative solutions. The tree structure starts with the problem at the root and branches out into several solutions or opportunities that address the problem. Each solution or opportunity can be further broken down into sub-solutions or sub-opportunities.

Benefits of Using OSTs

OSTs are an effective tool for problem-solving for several reasons:

  1. Visual Representation: One of the key benefits of using OSTs is that they provide a visual representation of the problem and its potential solutions. This makes it easier to understand and communicate the problem and its solutions to others.
  2. Breaks down complex problems: Complex problems can be overwhelming, making it difficult to identify potential solutions. OSTs break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components, making it easier to identify potential solutions.
  3. Encourages Creative Thinking: OSTs encourage individuals or teams to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions. It provides a framework for brainstorming and exploring different solutions to a problem.
  4. Facilitates Decision Making: OSTs help to evaluate the different solutions to a problem and identify the most viable solution. This facilitates decision-making by providing a structured approach to evaluating potential solutions.

Steps to Creating an OST

Creating an OST involves the following steps:

  1. Define the product outcome: The first step is to define the product outcome clearly. Product teams usually can have a direct impact on the product outcome, as opposed to the business outcome (think increase NPS vs. reduce time to task completion). One you can measure after a while, and looking in the rear mirror (NPS), the other you can continuously measure (task completion time).
  2. Brainstorm Opportunities: The next step is to brainstorm potential opportunities that address the product outcome. This involves thinking creatively and exploring different solutions.
  3. Categorize Opportunities: Once potential opportunities are identified, they are categorized into different groups based on their similarities.
  4. Identify Solutions: For each opportunity, potential solutions are identified. This involves breaking down the opportunity into smaller components and identifying potential solutions for each component.
  5. Evaluate Solutions: The final step is to evaluate the potential solutions and identify the most viable solution.


The Opportunity Solution Tree is a valuable tool for problem-solving. It helps to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components, encourages creative thinking, and facilitates decision-making. By following a structured approach to problem-solving, individuals and teams can identify innovative solutions that address the problem at hand. The visual representation of an OST makes it easier to communicate the problem and its solutions to others, making it a useful tool for both personal and professional settings.

Read the original article by Teresa Torres on "mental representations".

Read the original 2019 article by Teresa Torres on "prioritising opportunities".