When I’m asked “How do I come up with a new idea?” I usually respond with “what’s wrong with your day?”. I don’t mean this to be mean, I literally mean what in your day went bad, and why? This way you can find out what needs to be done to fix it, and run with that idea.
For some of us, we have already solved all our issues (kudos to you), so where do you look? The answer my friends, is your friends.Imagine this scenario. It’s Friday. It’s 5pm. You are at Happy Hour with some of your closest buds and gal pals. What’s everyone doing while having some drinks and nachos? Complaining about their job most likely! “Ugh, Joanne in accounting is so annoying, she’s always asking me for stuff.” How do you solve this problem? Can you preempt Joannes requests by providing a new solution? Is the question more of an efficiency issue or does Joanne really not know about things? Maybe you need to solve this by creating a manual for Joanne. All of these are possible answers to the idea.
I’m actually doing this exercise with a client next week. After speaking with her, she told me that most of her day is spent dealing with small technical issues, and it’s impacting her efficiency. While I do believe the technical problems do add up, I know her well enough to know that the efficiency problems are more along which tools she’s using. So for the last 2 weeks I’ve had her write down every little thing that comes up that interrupts her day (kind of ironic since writing it down probably interrupted her day). When I go in on Monday, I will evaluate the entire list of problems and come up with solutions to help. These solutions are, while geared towards the client, probably the solution to many peoples issues at work.
Here are some things to look at when discussing with your friends (and possibly clients) to determine if their problems are theirs and theirs alone, or something worse perusing:
1. Is the problem that’s trying to be solved something that will improve the personal feelings, or actual productivity. If it’s their feelings, that’s great, but their feelings about something may not be in line with a lot of other people. Look to solve productivity issues. While it’s great to help someone feel better, when you’ve solve the productivity problem the feels will automatically go with it.
2. Is it something tangible, or is it digital? As we know digital tools are much easier to create, and market than tangible ones. Creating digital tools can be done following the rules of Appitalize On Your Idea. Want to make that digital tool even better? Make it customizable for different business sectors. Tangible tools are great too, but look for a premed solution or Alibaba.com
3. Is the problem in question too small to be a good product? How niche is the solution? If it’s too small you may not be able to recoup the costs of development in sales. So look for a medium to large issue to be solved.
In short, go have a beer with some friends and let them complain about their problems. Listen carefully, take notes, and start that idea machine!
Got a problem you think you can’t solve? Let me know in the comments.