Have you ever wondered how entrepreneurs came up with their product ideas? How companies like Google, Facebook or Apple keep on creating new product ideas and being innovative. It´s simple. They have processes in place to create innovation. Many artists have some sort of process in place to start their work. Sometimes it is a morning coffee, a short walk or listening to inspirational quotes. However, most of the entrepreneurs and companies I met had have systematic processes in place. A common example are ex-consultants turning to entrepreneurship to make a dent in the world. They apply their systemic way of thinking to scan the market for opportunities. Large corporates also use scientific techniques to create potential new businesses or products ideas. But what are they?
The goal of design thinking is to uncover needs for a specific consumer group. To generate a product idea the process involves five basics steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. We will focus on the first three steps for idea generation. First start by identifying the right user to design for. So, which user groups do you know well? It might be a your last project for a client, a personal hobby or a user group that has not been innovated for a long time. I am a hobby chess player so we will take that as example.
Empathize: Gains, pains, and customer jobs.
To develop a product for chess player we have to look at what the pains and gains of playing chess are. First, make a list of possible pains and gains.
- Difficult to find a chess partner,
- Bound to the chess level of a chess partner,
- Few chess school,
- Chess is taught mainly in books without any interactive learning
- No possibility of exercising certain parts of the game.
- Fun to play,
- Social interaction,
- Strategic thinking,
- Feeling of productivity.
Finally, ask yourself what job is the user trying to get done? Are chess players only playing for fun, do they want to develop strategic thinking abilities, is it the only game they can play in a park when they are old? There are many reasons why people play chess and you goal is to find out, which one is the most relevant. This often looks like an obvious task, but most of the times customers use a product to get a very different job done than the founder initially expected. One of the most famous example for getting a different job done than you initially thought is the Mc Donald’s Milkshake.
Now rank the pains on different criteria to find out the most important problem. How often does it occur? Is it crucial? In which context is it done? Does it satisfy a need, solve a problem or perform a task?
Isolate the problem target group, need and insight you gained from the previous exercise. Formulate a problem statement: There is no way of learning chess with a player that is adapting to your abilities that starts improving with your level.
Generate a wide variety of product ideas – over 50. Again choose different criteria. What is the most rational choice or most practical, disruptive, most obvious idea? How would a 5-year-old solve the problem? How would you solve the problem with unlimited budget? What can you add, remove or modify from those existing solutions?
To find new business opportunities or product ideas systematic search offers a similar technique as effectuation. The idea is to start the search with a trend analysis and combine the analysis with your prior knowledge. Are there any trends you have noticed in your own environment or in society? If not use these sources to get an inspiration about the trends in 2015:http://www.kpcb.com/blog/2015-internet-trends
After you have found a trend, analyze it using common frameworks as PESTEL or Porter’s five forces. What does the trends indicative for society, are there any economic shifts happening, etc. On top of that trend start building ideas based on your prior knowledge.
User innovation is driven by the experiences and observation a user has when using a product. There are several examples as GoPro that have been huge successes.
You should think about all the products you are using at the moment, especially, if you have a strong domain expertise in a certain area. If not ask the right question to the users in this domain and find out the user’s feelings toward a product.
The goal here is to observe real people in real-life situations. Observe the users using the product, capture the data and reflect on it. The following sources help you to find out more about your idea and build on existing user innovations.
P.S.: Have an idea already, but don´t know how to start? Check out my article about finding the first capital for your product idea –> Click Here