Coming up with ideas – or it’s been done!

Coming up with ideas is hard.

I knew it was. I am naturally NOT that person to come up with ideas and as soon as I found out about this whole design thinking module – start up project – shenanigan, I had several freak outs about where and how on earth I was going to come up with a product, business idea, anything.

Well, I have. We have. It wasn’t just me, it was four of us. In a team. But it wasn’t easy, as a matter of fact, I think it was one of the hardest things we had to do so far.

At the beginning we had loads of random ideas. Every meeting we would end up chatting about random stuff (as you do) and come up with a pile of…. well, not really usable ideas. We knew we were capable, but we weren’t moving forward.

I believe that this was partially because we had no boundaries. No constrains and limitations, so our minds were wandering instead of focusing on something specific. Coming up with an idea out of thin air isn’t easy. But focusing and working within a framework helps you come up with specific ideas.

We decided to focus our attention on a specific group of people and observe their lives and habits to help us get inspired. Our focus went to the elders. We started researching the area and found that there is a great deal of innovation and a huge market for this group already. But we felt we could observe something new and come up with an idea.

And we did observe and we came up with an idea.

Arturo saw a lady at work trying to pay for a movie ticket with her cards. Slightly shaky hands and the general ability of cards to be stuck in the card slot made it really difficult for the lady to take the card out and pay.

We had a meeting, we talked about it, we realised that we had the same problem, often! And we thought that this was something we could focus on. (The sense of relief that came to all of us was Ah-mazing!)

We researched some more, we went out and talked to people – more on that in another post, but let me tell ya, it ain’t easy!! – we confirmed that the issue is real and people struggle with the way they store their cards and money and the accessibility.

We started talking about solutions and did a lot of research and that was where a lot of frustration came in. Everything we thought of was kind of already done, in some shape of form. The market is full of various wallet/purse/card holder solutions, some of them solve one issue of storage, but not the accessibility and vice versa. So, the question was – how are we going to combine the solutions but also achieve originality? – I don’t have an answer yet, we are still developing, so stand by on this one!

Also, with our brainstorming and research, we were slowly drifting away from our original focus on elders and our potential customer focus started moving towards young adults, professionals,  people with busy lives. This was happening naturally, but every time we made a step, we questioned it, because we were really stuck on the original focus.

We decided to seek guidance  in our mentors and we came to a conclusion, that it’s ok to move on, if that’s where your idea takes you. Our original focus fit its purpose, because it gave us inspiration, but it doesn’t mean we have to stay in the same field and only focus on elders.

Some conclusions from this experience:

  • Originality isn’t easy to achieve – People are innovative, really innovative. And when you think you’ve got it, google will ruin your day by showing you 478 932 searches of your idea. HOWEVER, you can also take an existing idea and improve it, redo it, add to it, make it original. Innovation is not only about creating new ideas and products, it’s also about finding new ways of making/doing things that already exist. And that development, exploring new possibilities, that’s the really fun part!
  • It’s ok to change direction and move on. – If your idea originates from one field, but through your ideating process you create a different function, or realise that it  fits better for a different consumer, go for it. The inspiration and the end use result can be two different situations.
  • Constrains are good – Focus on something specific, it helps generating specific ideas. We were stuck on wishy-washy ideas for a very long time, because we weren’t focusing our attention to anything specific. Once we did, we made progress.
  • Talk! – To your team, to potential users, to everyone. It helps generating ideas!

M.

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