Sometimes you might get stuck designing a solution. You shouldn’t rely on your intuition alone. You should explore inspiration from outside of yourself - from people, places and other resources. Sometimes, you might need tools to stoke your thinking fire. Find below a handful of tools my team and I turn to often to help us come up with better ideas.
Ideas are everywhere. Most people haven’t been trained to see them.How can you train yourself to see more ideas? Simply by collecting dots. What’s a dot? Experiences and learnings.
Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, famously said that “you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever”.
In order to come up with ideas, connecting dots from seemingly disparate and unrelated areas often helps us come up with the best ideas.
For example, during the 14th Century, the Medici family, an Italian banking family, brought together painters, sculptors, poets, philanthropists, scientists, philosophers, financiers, and architects, shaped historical eras of innovation, ultimately leading to the Renaissance.
So get interested in different things. Read about things you normally wouldn’t read about. Watch video about things you normally wouldn’t watch. Listen to music or podcasts you normally wouldn’t listen to. Go to places you normally wouldn’t go. The more different dots you can collect, the better you can connect them and the more novel your ideas will be later.
Deliveroo, for example, is a company that connected dots between food delivery and UBER’s ride- sharing service. Today, it is worth over US$2 billion.
How might you connect dots to come up with breakthrough ideas?
This tool was popularised in the book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.
By determining what factors of competition are for your product or industry, you can help to identify how you can be different and establish a competitive advantage.
When Nintendo released the Wii to compete with PS4 and Xbox, they didn’t focus on being a best-of-breed video game console. They focused on bringing non-core gamers back to gaming by making it all about feeling. Unlike its competitors, the Wii is cheap, has no Hard Disk, no DVD, no Dolby 5.1, weak connectivity, comparatively low processor speed, but it blew minds away with its innovative motion control stick when it came out.
Source: Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business Review
Another example of the Strategy Canvas in action can be found in Cirque du Soleil, the modern circus, below. As you can see, they got rid of star performers, animal shows and aisle concessions in favour of theme, refined environment and artistic music and dance to compete with traditional circuises. They were able to increase their price because they were appealing to adult audiences, instead of families with children.
Source: Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business Review
Answer the following questions:
You might want to map out your answers in a quadrant, per the below.
Source: Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Review
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs work on solving problems that aren’t big enough. Customers might realise there is a problem, but they are more or less happy with how they deal with it already.
If you have a number of problems you have identified, you can use this tool to help you determine which problem is actually worth solving.
Just ask people these two questions:
Once you have the answers, simply plot them onto the above chart. If the average person scored importance a 7 and satisfaction a 5, then they are more or less happy with existing solutions.
However, if they gave importance a 9 and satisfaction a 3, then there are opportunities to deliver something above and beyond what already exists.
The further away answers are from the triangle, the greater the opportunity. You want to look for over-served and under-served customers, not served right customers.
Customers are over-served:
For example, a 5-year old would be over-served by a bicycle with 20 gears and mountain ready tyres that sells for $1,000. They would be much better served by a small bicycle with no gears and training wheels that sells for $50.
Customers are under-served:
A professional mountain bike rider would be under-served by a BMX, because it doesn’t have gears, suspension, manoeuvrability and the tyre tread that’s required to scale mountains. As such, they would be willing to pay more for a bike with more proverbial ‘bells and whistles’.
Customers are served right:
A high school student who needs to get to school and likes to hit the half-pipe at the skatepark on weekends is served just right by a BMX.
Coca-Cola introduced the Share a Coke campaign, which gave people the opportunity to buy cans and bottles with their name on it. This is a relatively simple, but incredibly successful, example of personalisation in the FMCG industry.
Download our Emerging Trends poster to help you map trends against businesses to identify new opportunities.
The elements of value is a model that was developed by the consulting company, Bain. They found that what customers value usually falls into four buckets - functional, emotional, life changing and social impact.
They found that the customers of companies with high scores on four or more elements, such as Apple, Samsung and Amazon, were three times more satisfied than rivals. Apple scores highly on 11 of the 30 elements. Companies that score high on four or more elements grow faster and make more money than those that don’t.
The lesson? Use some of the elements of value in your idea. Try to incorporate at least five elements to satisfy your customers and help you make more money faster.
Products and services deliver fundamental elements of value that address four kinds of needs: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. In general, the more elements provided, the greater customers' loyalty and the higher the company's sustained revenue growth.
Source: Eric Almquist, Bain and Co
People like to talk Moore’s Law but what does it really mean?
Well, if you took a one metre step today, and doubled it every day for thirty days, you’d be walking around the world 26 times!
It’s also changing the way businesses operate and make money.
Tim O’Reilly is a famous technologist and futurist who designed the business model map for the future. To be successful today, businesses are becoming more open and connected.Look at UBER, they don’t have their own cars. They use a network of drivers and the driver’s private cars to service millions of people around the world. This is a great example of being open instead of closed.
Another element of the future business model is On Demand - today’s businesses leverage on demand talent to service on demand requests - just like Deliveroo delivering food to your door. Companies that can leverage the crowd, stay flexible and open are more likely to succeed.
How might you incorporate elements on the business model map into your idea so that you become a business of the future?