Coming up with the right new products can be tricky. The right idea could easily mean millions in revenue. The wrong idea could mean months of hard work – not to mention cash – down the drain. So how do you come up with the right ideas?
Harness Everyone’s Brain Power
Don’t use only your brain to come up with new ideas. Instead, make it a team-wide or company-wide project.
Google does this brilliantly with their “20 percent time.” 20% of all Google employee time should be spent on ideas they personally find interesting. Many projects, including Google Plus and Gmail came out of 20% time.
If you only use your brain for coming up with ideas, you’re using only a small portion of your organization’s total creative power.
Think Like a 5 Year Old
Creative thinking is best done with the mindset of a wide-eyed child. A child doesn’t see limitations, but possibilities. They think “what if?” instead of “why not.”
Imagine what the future would be like without limiting yourself to what seems possible. The idea for the iPod, which revolutionized Apple, was in Steve Jobs’ mind long before the technology existed to make it possible. When Sony finally came out with tiny hard drives that could store 10,000 songs, Jobs snagged the contract for all of them before they even hit production.
Combine or Improve Existing Products
Instead of coming up with brand new ideas, oftentimes you can hit homeruns just by combining existing products or by improving old ones.
When improving products, think “smaller, better or faster.” For example, the George Foreman Grill is basically just a meat grill, but smaller and easier to use. It’s a big improvement on an age-old product. It sold hundreds of millions of dollars.
Likewise, consider combining two products. For example, take a roller blade and combine it with sneakers. The retractable rollerblade was a runaway hit. Likewise, the iPad was very much like a combination between a PC and an iPhone. It was the hottest selling consumer item in history at the time of its release.
Ask Your Audience
Ask your audience for ideas. If you have an established business, it shouldn’t be hard to get feedback from your audience about what they want. Make a big list of requests, then pay special attention to any request that seems to have high demand, or any request that seems particularly innovative.
Keep a Notebook on You
Your best ideas will often hit you out of the blue. You might be in a meeting about something completely different. You might be at the grocery store. You might be turning out the lights and crawling into bed.
Your brain will usually just let these ideas go if you don’t write them down. Don’t make that mistake. Carry a notebook with you at all times and jot down any ideas that have potential.
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH YOUR PRODUCT IDEAS?