Tuesday, March 25, 2014

1. Have I researched and planned enough for the development process?

Taking from my last post, we revisit this question in a bit more depth as it pertains to product development...

I would break this down into two categories: 1. The Research, and 2. The Planning, in that order as well.

Performing the necessary research is critical. Number one, is this world-changing idea actually already on the market or in development somewhere else? Simple Internet searches can find all sorts of would-be competitors of your product. And while we all live in our myopic worlds, the reality is that there may be someone else in the world with the same idea, and they may just be light years ahead of you in execution. Let's say you find nothing in the world like it - better make sure there is an actual market. In some cases, you may build your own market (read www.blueoceanstrategy.com) or invent a need or trend others never would have thought of (see the famous 'Snuggie'). Typically, the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention is somewhat accurate. Although in some cases, I might disagree - nobody really ever needed a Snuggie, except maybe Canadians. Why not, Canada, they're fun like you!
But I digress. The point is that researching prior art in patents, locating similar products, understanding the consumer and defining the needs of that consumer are critical. You can have the greatest idea in the world but it might not solve a big enough problem, or becomes too much of a novelty to take seriously. Therefore, it is only really great to you. Now, don't be discouraged. Most of us who love to invent new products or revolutionize a daily routine will no doubt, in the many attempts at finding the right one, actually deliver on a solid idea. DaVinci, Edison, Ben Franklin - All of them had more ideas on paper than they ever carried forward. Sometimes it is just a matter of timing. The one diligent effort all three of the aforementioned made was the research leading up to the development.

Planning can be boring. Most of us in the creative process look at planning as something to throw to the business analyst at the end of the hall. While we abhor the process of planning, the fact is that we deliver a far superior end result as a direct descendant of the planning process. Be diligent here. Take time to think the process through. It will never be perfect the first time or even the 10th for that matter, however, following through with a detailed plan can thwart so many of the pitfalls you will always face during development. I know very few products that went through a development process as planned. Typically, the plan will morph to the obstacles you encounter, and as I stated in the original post - LEARN from them. These are great opportunities to develop skills you might not have nurtured previously. I like to keep notes on the sidelines of my planning notebooks. Little comments and anecdotes on how things progressed. Sometimes these notes become invaluable in future planning sessions as well. If you feel planning is not your thing, hire a business coach or similar to assist. It is worth the investment and can allow for big rewards at execution. We use a business coach monthly to help us track our goals and keep our eyes focused on the bigger picture, all the while recording the details to make each venture a success. Whatever the method you choose, I would always suggest that front-loading a comprehensive planning session will often times help you sort out important details you may miss if you fail to plan accordingly.

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