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Where Product Team Success Begins…or Falters

Unfettered brainstorming sessions are always fun but not always productive. Why? Probably because it’s just human nature to look for a great idea that might pop out of one of these sessions. While this sometimes happens, it is rare that a fully-formed innovative and viable idea will surface. It is more likely that one or more of the following processes will be needed to generate the “big idea” that everyone is looking for. Note: It might take only one truly innovative idea to change your company’s future.

  1. Growing the seed. This means that the essence of a good idea is put forth but it might need careful analysis, expansion, and refinement to become fully-formed and potentially powerful in the marketplace. This might be thought of as a “straight line” process from start to finish.
  2. Completing the jigsaw puzzle. This process is more elusive but often produces an idea that would otherwise be completely invisible. In essence, you gather up fragments of ideas and look for ways they might be combined to create a completely new idea. This is my favorite as the process can produce unique and powerful competitive weapons.
  3. Jumping the lilly pad. This third process relies on the brain’s ability to jump to a new idea that is sparked by, but not related to, the original idea—e.g. someone puts forth an idea for a product feature that has little potential but it causes you to think of one that has enormous potential. Think of it as a disconnected prompt.

There is one basic rule that must be followed for any of these methods to succeed: No idea or fragment of an idea, no matter how foolish it seems, will be rejected or ridiculed—i.e. nothing goes in the waste basket.
Tom McAuliffe
Advanced Product Management