Every creativity guru out there has a different process or description for generating and developing new ideas. But which ones of them work? Do you have to play on all sorts of levels of creativity to come up with a viable business idea?
The latest process I saw was one that breaks down creativity into five levels:
– idea preparation
– idea generation
– idea development
– idea enhancement
– idea activation
If any of this makes you want to fall asleep, I don’t blame you. I am extremely wary of these so-called success systems that claim to be helpful but are not nearly as new as they make out to be or are just simply unclear and filled with impressive abstract terms.
This is the thing – the ordinary person who comes up with an idea for a new product or service isn’t going to seriously study some abstract process of idea generation, development and “activation”.
The idea for a lid turning a simple glass jar into a coffee mug didn’t come from some elaborate creative process. The germ for the idea came from a remark a wife of a small business owner made when he spilt coffee all over his lap. “Why doesn’t someone make a lid for those jars?”, she asked. This gave him enough creative boost to investigate and come up with a jar lid that has resulted in a successful small business.
You see, creativity isn’t in the processes of creation but often can be found in your marketplace. What is it in the market that can provide inspiration for a new product or service? What problems are people experiencing but no one has yet come up with a solution? Have you observed existing products and services being used by consumers in the field and found out their shortcomings?
Although it is interesting for the experts to come up with all sorts of elaborate processes, diagrams and flowcharts to explain creativity and idea generation, these things won’t lead you to coming up with a new idea. All they do is explain the process. That’s all. Ideas often come from outside yourself and this is why it’s so important to realise that the more experience you have of life, of dealing with people, and of using different products, the more you increase the chances of you coming up with something that no one has thought of before.
It’s just as well to be extremely careful about new ideas. Those that are made up in abstraction and don’t emanate from the real world and life may very well not be what people want. Think of some of the lesser-known inventions. How much money do they make? How successful are they? Why is this so?
The answer is really that new things take long to be adopted in the marketplace. Big companies have huge marketing budgets that they can use to educate consumers and customers that if you’re a small business and want to hold onto your new idea it’s going to be very difficult to sell it to enough people. That’s why an old rule is so applicable to business ideas and that is that ideas for new products and services should be different but not too different than what is available on the market at present.
That old rule of thumb says new products that are faster, cheaper and more easier to use shouldn’t be more than about 15% different from those already on the market. If you think your path to a new business is through your own business idea, then rather use your common sense and come up with ideas that have more chance of being sold rather than being fantastic but a flop because no one wants to buy them.