Forced Attributes

There is no day when you do not learn something new. Just looking around you, you can find many things which provide a new way of watching, exploring, or even a completely new approach to something. A LinkedIn colleague, Paco Corma, has shared in his blog a very interesting way to develop product modifications by focusing on differentiation. It may also be used with services, since its core characteristics allow it. This technique uses unrelated stimuli to link a given product or service (the one feeding the new characteristics to explore) with our challenge (our goal product or service which we want to enhance). By “copying and pasting” attributes we can transfer characteristics from one to another and find surprising new approaches to the one being analyzed.

This is the way the tool works:

1) Choose a sample product or service you want to use as feeding element. It should be a random choice, and a suggested option is having several elements prepared in advance (written on notes) and picking one of them before the exercise starts.

2) The chosen element must be described by listing its attributes or characteristics. They are real facts linked to it when we buy it, consume it or dispose of it after use.

3) All listed elements must be explored to force connections among them and the challenge, namely our product or service to be enhanced.

Do you want to see an example about how it works? Let’s suppose you own a plant where umbrellas are manufactured. You are looking for some ways to differentiate your product and enhance it. A phone is going to be used as the feeding element to provide stimuli for idea generation. Some of the phone attributes which may be listed are:

– it rings when somebody calls you

– it allows hands-free use if utilized with proper external devices

– it is either wire-connected or wireless

– it works when you push buttons to dial

Taking a look at them and connecting each one to our challenge (umbrella), may release the following ideas:

– How about a bluetooth connection system with your cellular to hear or display the incoming call number in order to warn you that somebody is calling you when walking by the street during a rainy day? Wind may make you not notice the incoming call and the ring on the cell would prevent it.

– How about designing a hands-free strapping system to your body for allowing the umbrella to be used without having to fix it with your hands?

– What if we include a microphone and speaker on the handle so that the bluetooth connection also provides conversation capabilities?

– May we add an automatic electric system to make the umbrella open and close without having to pull by hand?

You can see the technique is very simple and effective. The more attributes you list the more modifications to your product or service you can define.

Hail to the creativity!


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