“Interesting” is the word we often hear when telling others about good innovative ideas. Unfortunately though, this is mostly the last thing we hear about it before it soon dissolves in the busyness of both working and personal lives. Unless formed, shaped and colored, ideas by themselves are defenseless and mostly worthless. How can an idea be more than just “interesting”?
A nice way to get pass the “interesting” point is as David Kelley, found of IDEO, puts it “tell me something and you might catch my interest for a short time. However, show me something; let me feel it and you would get all my attention for a much longer time”. The way is to build a prototype. In a broad sense, a prototype is whatever can give your idea a visible/tangible form and/or feeling. This can be with simple drawings, models, videos, interface mock-up images, etc. Depending on your situation, it is not necessary for a prototype it be neither functional nor attractive. Of course, building a prototype does require more investment/effort than to just say an idea.

Why prototype:

Here are some reasons that can partially illustrate the power of prototypes:

  1. It is much more likely for people to remember a prototype than an idea.
  2. Prototypes are a much stronger mean of communicating your ideas compared to just speaking about it.
  3. Having a prototype indicate your seriousness to your audience as it shows that you have invested resources to produce a prototype.
  4. Going through the making of a prototype forces you to refine your idea to a clearer and more precise form that you can deliver to your audience.
  5. A prototype helps your audience imagine the good impact your idea is about to bring.
Overall, a prototype will put you in a high standing that words can never put you in.

For what other reasons should you build a prototype?

*image from http://blogs-images.forbes.com/sap/files/2011/07/innovation.jpg 
Coming up with “ideas” is sometimes a difficult task as it can be too abstract and lack structure. Here, we will be looking into some methods that can guide or inspire you to your next innovation.

1-      Find an alternative method to accomplish what an existing innovation accomplishes: The fact that a company or a firm started to produce a product that addresses a NEED can indicate that fulfilling that NEED is a viable opportunities. This is as if the other company has identified the location of a hidden treasure to you. Coming up with other innovations that would satisfy that NEED can yield a great opportunity.

2-      Follow what you like: list your passions and observe how technologies evolve around you and look for innovative opportunities that would keep you excited.

3-      Tackle what annoys you: take another look of your daily life and see what annoys you! Do you get annoyed because of how the flour is being packaged, does the methods available to find home-service providers annoy you? How about you spending time to resolve those issue and make your life easier!

4-      Provide a better-quality commodity (and more expensive): go to the market and find all the inexpensive commodities. Those have been commodities for long enough that you will find it difficult to distinguish the different brands as they all look similar with about the same price. Then, consider providing a deluxe version. A good number of customers might be willing to pay extra for better packaging or better quality.

5-      Make it cheaper: what are products or services that are considered to be premium? Can you provide a similar service or product with a considerable cheaper cost?! Have you noticed that a wireless keyboard cost at least $100? Can you make it $20?

6-      From Industry to Consumers: Have you noticed that there are some products that are only available at industrial level where only companies enjoy such products at high cost? Can you make that product cheaper to consumers with many of the same features? As an example, 3D Printing has long been available for industries to use! However, only recently that some people committed to themselves to make such luxury available to ordinary people!  

7-      New Trends: what changes in technology, norms and demography happen to be around you? Are people in your community suddenly started to more consider their personal health? Can you use that trend to produce new products or provide new services? What new products can you provide given the trend of mobile technology? The Internet of Things? Etc…

8-      Manipulate existing attribute of a product: what attribute do marketers give to smartphones?! Size, weight, battery life, screen display, processing power, etc. Now, which of those attributes can be eliminated, reduced or raised above expectations? What new attributes can be introduced into the smartphone industry?       

Hope you have enjoyed the topic! Now that you know those techniques, how about you inspire us with ideas in the Ideas Bank!

TforDesign Team
Suggested Reading for more information: Innovation Tournament.