What methods work best for generating ideas for products and services?
A motivated entrepreneur will be constantly on the lookout for new business ideas using observation, listening (especially to complaints and problems) and scanning a wide range of published materials.
With some effort and imagination we can spot opportunities particularly when we make connections between unrelated or random thoughts, concepts, ideas and objects.
But what should we do when we need to make the idea generation process more deliberate and focused?
This is where idea generation tools come in as they enable us to produce a huge number of ideas – more than we can use – so that we can select the more promising ones (and potentially profitable). Idea generation tools help increase our opportunities for coming up with better ideas and perhaps even breakthrough ideas.
Let’s look at a simple example to highlight the value of generating ideas in quantity. Top commercial photographers for high-readership, quality magazines take many photographs before they find the one that will perfectly illustrate their subject of interest. In National Geographic’s “50 Greatest Pictures” some of the behind-the-scenes secrets were given. One sentence shows just how much trial and error goes into shooting iconic images:
“A photographer shoots 20,000 to 60,000 images on assignment. Of those, perhaps a dozen will see the published light of day.”
In generating new business ideas such extremes are rarely necessary. But, still, if you don’t push yourself beyond your first few ideas, how are you going to come up with something that will wow potential customers?
Check any creativity or idea generation website and you’ll find up to 100 idea generation techniques. Do you need all of them? Which ones should you use?
I’ve used many of these techniques for solo brainstorming, in pairs, groups and one-on-one with small business owners. The most effective techniques will depend on the type of idea generation challenge and the temperament of the business person.
Freewriting will give you ideas on where to start your ideas search.
The 20-Idea Method will work better for problem-solving to generate ideas.
My Fusion Card method helps come up with completely new products and services.
Mind mapping is more effective o find links between existing skills, experience and interests for new personalised services ventures.
A photographic business owner would enjoy the random objects and associations techniques I sometimes use.
An analytical person may enjoy using TRIZ Contradiction Analysis.
Yet others may like more esoteric idea generation methods such as Lotus Blossom, Guided Imagery or Visioning.
If you want to come up with an idea and turn it into profit, you’ll face the challenge of not knowing whether your idea is worth pursuing, how much it’ll cost to develop and promote as well as deciding when to kill a product or service that is not cutting it. Go here to discover how to solve these challenges and find out how to turn your idea into profit.