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:
- Restate or expand the idea into a well-defined concept.
- Share the concept with potential buyers who may have value and let them critique, upgrade, modify, and define a value for the concept.
- Conduct a market assessment to obtain an initial sense of the potential for the concept if it’s converted into a usable product.
- Engage your technical staff to define an approach to transforming the concept into a viable product.
- Beta test the product in your key markets (defined above).
- Develop your new product market introduction.
In this blog post, we will attack the first step: 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 the concept will bring to the market?
- 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 is arbitrary, but most often takes the form of one of the following formats:
- Who might like your idea and why? How is it different from what is available today? How will customers be willing/able to use it? What would you need to do to make it usable?
- What kind of product could you make from your idea? What technology could you employ to produce that product? Who could make use of your product in this form? How would that be better than what you are doing today?
- What kind of product could you make from your idea? Who would be in the best position to use your product? What technology would you need to make it a meaningful product?
Once you are 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 includes all three key elements described above. 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 then be tested with potential users. If the concept statement is not in a form that can be tested, then it is generally a poorly thought through concept. This is where most innovators fall short. Until they reach this stage, the project flounders, alignment is impossible, and market-driven innovation cannot be achieved.
A good concept description has the following elements:
- You know what kind of product is needed to capture the idea
- You have a good basis for addressing the right market space
- You understand the technology and know how to apply it
- You can identify the key uncertainties and areas of leverage
We will examine these elements in future blog posts on concept development.