Transforming an Idea into a Concept

We all have ideas about what could be the next best product for our business portfolio, but too often, we hit a wall when we attempt to expand that idea into a valued commercial offering. Where ideation is fun, transformation of the idea into something of tangible value that we can sell becomes brutal. It doesn’t need to be. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Restate or expand the idea into a well-defined concept.
  2. Spare the concept with potential buyers who may have value and let them critique, upgrade, modify and define a value for the modified concept.
  3. Conduct a market assessment to obtain an initial sense about the potential for the concept if converted into a usable product.
  4. Engage your technical staff to define an approach to transforming the concept into a viable product.
  5. Beta test the product in those key markets defined above.
  6. Develop your new product market introduction.

In this blog, we will attack Step 1: Restate your idea into a well-defined concept.

Restate Your Idea into a Well-Defined Concept

A concept statement has three key elements:

  • What benefits do we propose to bring to the market with the concept?
  • What form will the concept need to take to be usable by the market?
  • What technology will provide the basis for assuring the concept will be meaningful and unique?

Where you begin analyzing your idea us arbitrary but most often takes one of the following formats:

  • Who might like our idea and why? How is it different from what is available today? How would they be willing/able to use it? What would we need to do to make it usable? Etc.
  • What kind of product could we make from our idea? What technology could we employ to produce that product? Who could make use of this product in this form? How would that we better than what they are doing today?
  • What kind of product could we make from our idea? Who would be the best position to use the product? What technology would we need to make a meaningful product?

Once you become comfortable thinking this way, it becomes much easier to transform your idea development from any place you start. However, you will want to generate a statement that has all three elements included. This statement—generally defined in a single sentence—can be enhanced by incorporating a specific set of elements (characteristics) of the concept that enable the benefits to be achieved and demonstrate the difference with existing competitive solutions. In essence, the concept statement can evolve into a value proposition hypothesis which can be tested with potential users. If the concept statement is not in a form to be tested, it is generally a poorly thought through concept. This is where most innovators fall short, and until they reach this stage, the project flounders, alignment is impossible, and market driven cannot be achieved. A good concept description has the following elements:

  • We know what kind of product is needed to capture the idea
  • We have a good basis for addressing the right market space.
  • We understand the technology and know how to apply it.
  • We can identify the key uncertainties and areas of leverage.

These elements will be examined in future blogs on concept development. 

About the Author

Ronald E. SullivanRon Sullivan is a Senior Partner at Breakthrough Marketing Technology. He has worked with many businesses on innovation, new product development processes, strategy, building new business models, channels and distribution, and pricing optimization. He has significant expertise in study design, data analysis, and market intelligence. 


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