Product Ideation & Strategy

“The goal of the ideation process isn’t lots of ideas…it’s all about coming up with ‘the’ big idea.”


10306403156_81eb569b3e_bIdeation is all about coming up with ‘the’ big idea. The key challenge, however, is knowing what constitutes the right idea. Idea generation, or the right ideation, is the process that helps execute on a value proposition, where a large number of customers get a job done significantly better at a price they are willing to pay. The goal of the ideation process, then, should not be lots of ideas. Instead, the goal should be to construct the single, best solution to satisfy the unmet needs of the target customers and segments, enabling them to get the job done faster, more conveniently, and more effectively than ever before. Your value meets their needs.

Misleading the ideation process

There is a consistent philosophy that influences nearly all product development processes: it is the idea that the innovation process starts with an idea. This is a misleading myth. An idea can be the output of the innovation process, perhaps not just the starting point. Making ideation and idea management the starting point of the innovation process, although common, turns innovation into a guessing game: “where do we go with this?”. It is an inefficient approach to innovation and the root cause of innovation failure rates. Why? Because it is not always possible to have a big idea before knowing what customer, jobs-to-be-done, segment, unmet needs, and price the idea has to address. They are the inputs needed to execute successful ideation techniques. The chances that any random idea will satisfactorily address all these prerequisites are minuscule.

Why ideation?

Many companies equate innovation with idea management. They have creative and collaborative sessions that result in lots of ideas that must be catalogued, filtered, assessed, and eventually acted upon. The concept in brief: “The more ideas we have, the greater our chances are that one of them will be the big idea. Our goal, then, is to fail as many as possible and fast; to filter out all the bad ideas before executing on any of them.”

The ideas-first model is a method of trying to figure out which of the hundreds of ideas significantly address a customers’ unmet needs in attractive markets. But in nearly all companies, managers don’t agree on what a customer need is, much less all the unmet needs in the markets the ideas are addressing. Determining which idea is often the greatest challenge.

As a result, companies pursue, develop, and refine ideas they find intuitively appealing, while attempting to figure out which ideas address unmet needs in attractive markets. A costly ideation technique that wastes time, money, and resources.

Don’t brainstorm innovation; construct it

Our ideation process works because it is built around knowing all the customers’ needs, and which are unmet, in advance of the ideation process. We have discovered that customers consider between 50 and 150 metrics when assessing how well a product or service enables them to successfully execute any job. These metrics (or desired outcomes) are the customer’s needs and the power behind our innovation process, Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI).

Prior to ideation, we research the metrics to capture and prioritise the customers’ needs. Those same methods also identify what customer, job-to-be-done, segment, and price the idea has to address. No other process makes this possible. With the right information in hand, we can construct a big idea, because success comes from knowing, not guessing.

We invite you to schedule a meeting with us to understand more about our ideation process.