Article provided by Margot Sandy
Can anyone with a product idea turn his/her monetary dreams into a reality?
After years of developing products in multi-million and billion dollar corporations (private and public), this past year I set out on my own to test the theory, “Is there such a thing as a million dollar idea?” On my travels (across 4 continents thus far), I have met a plethora of people through business workshops, public appearances and those who I am working with via the inter web.
There is a process for developing products. In my experience that process tends to fall short for some people. Blind spots to all facets of the product development process and lack of a long term plan often lead people to unintended costs, schedule delays and failed launches. Often, I have seen good products go to the product graveyards after a lackluster start. I have also witnessed great ideas that never make it to the shelves. The common denominator in all of these miscues was usually a lack of understanding about how all three areas of product development (design, development and marketing) should work hand in hand.
As a designer, you could have the coolest product to hit the shelves since the iPhone was first introduced in 2007. As an engineer, you could have the most groundbreaking technology like the introduction of the personal computer (in the 70s). As a marketer, you could have the best story to go viral like Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercials in 2010. However, none of it matters if all three areas are not working together in some form. The function, form and business of an idea must have an equal amount of attention otherwise the ghosts of failed products past become failed products of the present and future.
A few weeks ago on the island of Malta, I brought the standard five-phase product development process I have been using for over a decade to a business workshop that I developed for migrants and refugees. This workshop was for a small group with varying product ideas that ranged from launching a freelance writing business to developing 3D printed shoes to opening a barbershop. All ideas were subject to the same development framework: (1) Ideation, (2) Scope / Business, (3) Design & Development, (4) Manufacturing / Production and (5) Launch.
Broad terms were to be applied to each type of idea whether it was a product or service offering. However, without fail at this workshop, the details needed for the different areas of the process were overlooked and the same oversight for all areas (marketing, design and development) was apparent. Some participants had great designs and not any forethought about how to make them. Others had a strong understanding of how to develop the product and not any plan for how to get their ideas out to the masses. Time will tell whether any of these eager migrants or refugees turn their ideas into sealing their financial future. At the very least, the framework has been revealed, questions have been generated and perhaps their dreams will become realities if they continue to build and follow a plan.
Now off to Columbia to continue my quest only this time it will be with some university students…