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April 26th, 2016

How to Get Your Big Idea Developed

So you’ve got a Big Idea. Something that’s going to shake up the industry. An idea your customers will love. If you could just clone yourself, you might have the time and resources to make the idea a reality before your competitors do.

Sure, you’ve tried setting aside time each week to focus on your Big Idea. You’ve even put a designer on it, squeezing it in between their other responsibilities. Perhaps you’ve outsourced the project to a consulting firm, only to have the project back on your desk in six months, not much farther along.

Big ideas take a lot of work, and it’s going to take more than spare time from your product development team (or a clone of yourself) to realize them. What you need is a game plan.

Define and test your idea quickly

In order to rally your organization and their resources behind your idea, you need to prove it will work. And that means prototypes. Test as many as you need to demonstrate the benefit of your idea. You don’t have to make it pretty, but you do have to make it work. Be prepared to test many versions before you find the working solution.

You don’t have to create the prototype alone. Can your internal engineering or manufacturing team mock something up? Perhaps your contract manufacturer would lend a hand to get a shot at the new business. Or maybe an outside firm with a network of prototyping resources can handle it.

Call outside resources when you need expertise

Smart product makers often use outside resources with specialized skills to extend their internal teams. Your inside team can help define the criteria and provide important knowledge to minimize wasted effort. Your external experts bring manpower to time-intensive tasks like CAD development and user testing. They also provide a valuable strategic perspective, especially if they have experience in a diverse range of products and industries.

One Example. My team recently had the opportunity to work with a large-scale outdoor equipment manufacturer. They had an idea with the potential to shake up their industry, and they needed to act quickly to prove it. Their engineering teams were buried, so they called us. We studied their factory’s equipment and techniques, and developed designs for a prototype that could be made using the client’s existing materials and capabilities. Their engineers helped us select the concepts that best matched their factory’s capabilities. When we handed over the design, the factory was able to make it quickly and easily, as if it was just another order coming through.

Partner with experts that complement your internal team

Take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of your internal creative team. Where do they shine? Where could they use some support? Perhaps your team is strong on industry experience and materials knowledge, but out of touch with product trends or technology. Line up an outside product development team now that will complement your team, so when a storm hits, you’re ready.

Big ideas take creativity. Getting them developed takes a great game plan—no cloning required.

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