Here are a couple of exercises to force yourself to come up with some brand new ideas. These methods can be used to give your business an edge, to overcome creative blocks, or just for fun – to prove to yourself that you can have some great ideas.
Method 1: “It’s X meets Y”
Many movie critics use the “It’s X meets Y” formula to help them quickly and accurately describe what a movie is all about. For example, the film Open Water was described by one critic as “It’s Jaws meets Blair Witch”. Anyone can now guess that the film involves sharks (or other water-dwelling monsters), and is a horror film filmed in a realistic way.
You can also use this formula to create brand new products, which can be easily understood by the potential market.
Choose 2 products from your industry (or choose 2 at random), with different features and audiences. Combine the two and consider the result. This is your brand new product. Do this a few times to create 5 different new products and then evaluate them to see which to go with. For example “It’s Pop Tarts meets AllBran” could give you the idea to make a toastable breakfast health snack, or mini-Poptarts that you pour into a bowl and eat as a cereal.
Funnily enough, this method works really well with new movie-script ideas.
Method 2: “Redesign This”
This method allows a product to be developed very quickly.
Consider an existing everyday item and improve it. Write down the item’s main essential features – no more than the essentials. Then write down all the extra features you would personally like to see in the perfect version of this item. Then sketch out some ideas which have all the features you have though of.
If we consider a Kettle, what essentials features does it need? The ability to heat liquid, to be safe, easy to pour, easy to fill.
If we think of it like this we could design a kettle that can have variable settings for different liquids – one to boil water, one to heat baby’s milk, one to make hot chocolate (though it would have to be easy to clean!). Or we could make a more traditional style kettle, but with an extra wide spout to allow it to be filled without having to remove the lid.
These new ideas appear only when we strip an item down to its absolute essentials and start again from scratch.
Is your business as targeted as it could be, or are you providing unwanted features? Could you bring out some new redesigned products to complement existing ones?
It is very satisfying to improve an old classic.