Do you find that making a choice for say, a piece of apparel, takes a long time? After your choice, you still are not sure if you made the right choice? The biggest problem that always comes up once we have a list of choices is the laborious process of selection. The same applies to ideas as well.
Selection usually involves a bunch of experts looking at the ideas under a microscope (told you, I am a former electron microscopist) and deciding which ones to take and which ones to leave. There are methods to help these experts like Implementation-payoff matrix, competitor jealousy, $100 method. The list goes on… I have always had this doubt in my mind that after we choose an idea, “Did we really make the right choice? What if the other seemingly weak idea was better than this?” I asked this question to Ellen Domb, when she visited Mindtree about a couple of months ago. Her answer was Pugh Matrix and merge ideas, so in effect, a modified Pugh Matrix. What is Pugh matrix? It is a matrix with customer expectations on one side and all the ideas on another. You just list down in the intersection, if the idea satisfies, doesn’t satisfy or exceeds expectations. Similar to an organization’s appraisal system 🙂 Then, Ellen’s idea was to merge all the ideas that work and evolve a concept.
Although, this method appealed to me, I thought of my audience and wondered what their reaction would be? “Oh man, another name, another method, another activity”. So one step to achieving Innovation Nirvana is to eliminate steps and so I did eliminate Pugh Matrix. What we ended up with was forcing all ideas into a ball room and ask them all to dance to one tune. What you will get is not an ensemble, but a chaotic mess of dissimilar ideas, utter confusion. From confusion and chaos is born a concept, pure at heart and new to the world. The new concept has DNA from her parents, learnings from the past and fresh to the environment. This is actually a concept from nature, if you get my drift. We get so many variations in life forms, even though they come from finite matter on the earth.
Give me an example, is what I hear from you now. Ok, I’ll entertain you, dear reader. How do I utilize my commute time effectively?
Idea 1: I read books
Idea 2: I listen to music
Idea 3: Catch up on sleep
Idea 4: Talk to my buddies
Concept = Idea 1 + Idea 2 + Idea 3 + Idea 4
Concept 1: I will talk to buddies about music that I like, books that I’ve read and the sleep that I need to catch upon
Concept 2: I can read books about effective listening, maintaining effective sleep patterns and how to socialize
Concept 3: I listen to audio books or musicals, while catching a wink and will later talk to my friends on their views on this
Quite easy, if you ask me. The challenge comes when you have many more ideas and merging them can become tricky. Also, if you notice the concepts, the core starting idea dictates how a concept is going to evolve.
A Pixar movie has close to 1400-1500 ideas in them, I believe. How come there is no mindboggling concept in my list, even though nature has so many geniuses in her variations? Well, add some quirky ideas in there and watch the fun. In our case, I could say “I want to do Yoga” is that quirky idea. I will keep my iPod or cell phone down and bend over to reach the device to listen to audio books/musicals and … you get the drift.
How do you practice this? Simple, write down all ideas that come to your mind. Usually, these are the ones that you have come up with already or you’ve heard them before.
How do you breathe practicality in to the concept? In our analogy, how do we teach the baby ways of the world? Wait for the next exciting episode!