Exercise 44 – Build a product to solve the dog poop problem.

Post and review answers and feedback to answers in the comments section of this post.

See also:

How to answer a product design question in a product manager job interview

List of product design questions for product manager job interviews

 

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Bijan
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I would first ask for clarity on what problem they are referring to. Let’s assume that they are referring to the fact that some people do not clean after their dogs when the dogs poop in public places such as parks. I will also ask if it’s ok for me to focus on a particular type of public place such as a park.

I would also ask if they have a preference on the form and shape of the product – solution. Whether it be a hardware or software (an app or a web service). For the sake of this interview, I’m going to assume that I can chose any form of solution I like. My preference would be an app since it’s scalable but I can give a better answer once I brainstorm some ideas.

I would also ask for clarity on the objective. I think that a good objective in this could be a reduction in the number of dog poops that are on the public areas at any given day.

I would like to first think about the user group’s that are involved with the dog poop problem:

– Dogs: they poop
– Dog owners: they sometimes don’t take their dogs’ poops
– City workers: they have to clean the dog poop
– Innocent Citizens: they see the dog poop in public places and are the main losers in this dog poop problem. They feel disgusted by the dog poop. They might even step on them and make their shoes dirty

I’m going to focus on the Innocent Citizens since they are the ones feeling most of the pain. Another approach could have been focusing on the dog poop owners since they are the cause of the problem. If I focus on the Innocent Citizens, here are a few use cases / needs I can think about among this group:

– They might witness someone not cleaning after their dog
– They might accidentally step on dog poop
– They will need a way to clean their shoes after stepping on it
– They would like to find someone and ask them to remove the dog poop

I’m sure there are other use cases one can think of. For this interview, I’m going to focus on the above 4 cases and come up with a few ideas that solve for the listed use cases.

– Enable them to take pictures and videos of the dog owner who’s not cleaning after their dog, tag their location and time, and inform neighbors of the dog owner’s behavior as a way to put pressure on the dog owners to clean after their dogs

– Provide location and time of the picture of a dog poop to the users of the platform (let’s say it’s an app) so that city workers can use the information to spot the poop and remove it

– The app can determine dog-poop safe walking paths based on the info provided by the users

– Place dog poop bags and remover sticks across parks to make it easier for people to remove the poop they see on the park

– Organize dog poop removal days in parks asking volunteers to come in and help clean the park by removing any poop they see. Acknowledge and reward those who find and remove the highest number of poop

Now, here is how I would go about ranking the ideas based on impact on the innocent citizen and cost of implementation.

Idea 1 – Medium impact as it can result in people being called out by their neighbors for being irresponsible, increasing the pressure for being socially responsible. This might even result in some arguments between neighbors. One challenge will also be getting users to review pictures and videos and mentioning who the dog owners are. People might not care about this. Cost of implementation is low as it’s a fairly straight forward app. Driving the adoption of the app will most likely be high

Idea 2 – High impact as it can have two positive affects: remove dog poops faster and help people avoid stepping on dog poop. Cost of implementation is low (develop the app)

Idea 3 – Medium impact as many users will not be using the app for walking on the park. It’s a lot of work for the average user. Plus, they might decide to continue their pre-determined path and just watch for dog poop rather than changing path

Idea 4 – Medium impact as many people might not be willing to take the time to remove someone else’s dog poop. Cost of implementation is high as you need physical devices in all parks all around the country.

Idea 5 – Medium impact since it’s not a sexy / good cause purpose to inspire people to participate on. Cost of implementation is high as you would need to organize so many events across the country on an on-going basis to have a positive impact

Out of the ideas listed above, I suggest implementing idea 2. It has direct impact on reducing the time a dog poop stays on the ground, therefore resulting in less dog poop in public places. In addition, the cost of implementation is low. You just need to develop an app that enables people to add a picture, add information such as time, location, direction, and send that info to the park / city workers. You can also inform users once a dog poop is removed as a way to present the positive outcome of their work and to encourage them to continue their behavior (reporting dog poop).