We will commence our assignment with a discussion of sources of new ideas. We will then examine methods of generating ideas, creative problem solving, the product planning and development process, and then e-commerce. We will then generate several new ideas using brain writing, the checklist method, and free association. We will apply the product development stage to our new ideas and end our discussion with two alternatives to e-commerce.
Sources of new ideas include consumers, existing products and services, distribution channels and even the Federal Government (Hisrich, 2008). The files of the patent office are full of new ideas and new product ideas can form as a result of government regulations. Research and development is the largest source of new ideas and can occur in a formal lab or in a garage or basement.
Many methods can be use to generate new ideas. In focus groups, a moderator leads a group of people through open, in-depth discussions. These groups generally consist of eight to fourteen participants. They are stimulated by comments from other group members in creatively conceptualizing and developing a new product idea to fill a market need. Focus groups are also an excellent way to screen ideas and concepts. Problem inventory analysis is another great method of generating new ideas. It uses individuals in a manner that is similar to that of focus groups. Consumers are provided with a list of problems in a general product category and are then asked to identify and discuss products in this category that have the particular problem. This method should be used primarily to identify product ideas for further evaluation.
Creative problem solving takes the generation of new ideas to a higher level. Brainstorming allows people to be stimulated to greater creativity by meeting with others and participating in organized group experiences. Rules include the following:
a)Criticism not allowed
b)Freewheeling is encouraged
c)Quantity of ideas is desired
d)Encourage combinations and improvements of ideas
Brainstorming should be fun and not contain any domination or inhibition of discussion. It is highly effective in groups of six to twelve individuals and can generate ideas about a problem within a limited time frame through the spontaneous contributions of participants. Reverse brainstorming offers a different perspective as it is similar to brainstorming, except criticism is allowed. It is based on finding fault by asking in how many ways an idea can fail. The focus is on the negative aspects of a product, service, or idea. One must be careful to maintain group’s morale though. Reverse brainstorming can be used prior to other forms of creative techniques to stimulate innovative thinking and involves the identification of everything wrong with an idea. It is usually worthwhile since is easier for people to be critical about an idea instead of coming up with a new one.
Brainwriting is a form of written brainstorming and gives participants more time to think than brainstorming. It is silent and each group member writes down three ideas within five minutes. A form is passed around to all participants while a leader monitors time intervals and can even modify them. The Gordon method is another method of creative problem solving and begins with group members not knowing the exact nature of a problem. This ensures that a solution is not clouded by preconceived ideas and behavioral problems. A general concept associated with the problem is mentioned and the group then expresses a number of ideas. A concept is then developed and related concepts are developed. Finally, the actual problem is revealed.
The checklist method involves the development of a new idea through a list of related issues or suggestions. The following questions demonstrate how the checklist method is used:
ii.Put to other uses? New ways to use as-is?
iii.Adapt? What else like this? What could I copy
iv.Modify? New twist? Change meaning, color, form, shape?
v.Magnify? What to add?
vi.Minify? What substitute? Smaller?
vii.Substitute? What else instead? Other material?
viii.Rearrange? Other pattern?
Free association is another form of creative problem solving and is one of the simplest and yet most effective methods. It is helpful in developing an entirely new slant to a problem. First, a word or phrase related to a problem is written down. Then other ones are written down and so on. Each new word attempts to add something new to the ongoing thought processes. This creates a chain of ideas ending with a new product idea.
The product planning and development process is crucial to an entrepreneur’s success. One must first establish evaluation criteria by assessing the market opportunity and size. One must evaluate current competing producers, prices, and marketing efforts. New idea should have synergy with existing management capabilities and marketing strategies. The proposed product or service idea should be able to be supported by and contribute to a company’s financial well-being. One should evaluate the compatibility of a new product’s production requirements with existing plant, machinery, and personnel. Entrepreneurs should be concerned with formally evaluating an idea throughout its evolution. The idea stage involves identifying new product or service ideas while eliminating impractical product or service ideas.
One must determine the need for the new idea as well as its value to the company to ensure both prior to proceeding with the ideas. The need determination should focus on the type of need, its timing, the users involved with trying the product or service, the importance of controllable marketing variables, the overall market structure, and the characteristics of the market. In the concept stage, a new product should be developed further and refined through interaction with consumers. The refined idea is then tested to determine consumer acceptance. Features, price, and promotion should be evaluated for the concept being studied and any major competing products. The product development stage involves determining consumer reactions to the physical product. An entrepreneur can provide samples in this stage. The final stage of the development process consists of the test marketing stage, which provides actual sales results that indicate the acceptance level of consumers.
E-commerce is a relatively new concept in the business world and should be used creatively. An entrepreneur must address additional specific issues due to continually-evolving technology. For instance, one must decide if he will run the internet operations of the business or outsource the task to another firm. A website is often created and must be aesthetically-pleasing and fully functional. Ninety percent of small businesses use websites and ease of use is important with websites. The website is a communication vehicle in which search capability and speed are equally important. A website should have a shopping cart, secure server connection, credit card payment processing, and a customer feedback feature. It should be customized for specific target market groups and should be compatible with various browsers.
The tracking of customer information is vitally important when dealing with e-commerce. This is often accomplished via electronic databases. Doing so supports personal marketing and captures customer attention with customized one-to-one marketing. It is critically important to protect the privacy of individuals when keeping databases.
When conducting e-commerce as an entrepreneurial company, one’s products should be able to be delivered economically and conveniently. Products must be interesting to a large number of people and a company must be prepared to ship products out of its geographic location. Online operations must bring significant reductions in cost as compared to having a store.
We now turn our attention to the generation of clothing ideas for Libya. We utilized brainwriting with a time limit of five minutes to come up with a new idea. We drafted an adjustable robe for women that can be rolled up and then attached with velcro to shorten it when desired to offer additional clothing and styling capabilities. We then used the checklist method and came up with the following:
xi.Modify? New twist? Change meaning, color, form, shape?
a)Can offer robe in multiple colors such as white, red, and blue
xii.Substitute? What else instead? Other material?
a)Can make robes out of breathable polyester / nylon material as used in athletic wear
b)Allows for wicking away of sweat and moisture to keep clothing dry and light in weight
We then used free association to come up with a list of related words:
-xiii.cooling, light weight, windproof, light colors, reflective material xiv. End result is metallic-colored fabric that will reflect sunlight like aluminum foil
We then applied product development stages to the new ideas to formulate a final product concept. We first established our evaluation criteria by assessing market opportunity and size. The population of Libya is 6,173,579, so this will serve as our potential market (Wikipedia, 2009). We then turned to the idea stage to identify new product ideas. These ideas included the following thought process:
a)Can offer robe in multiple colors such as white, red, and blue
b)Can make robes out of breathable polyester / nylon material as used in athletic wear
c)Roll-up velcro to shorten robe for greater cooling and comfort
d)metallic-colored fabric that will reflect sunlight like aluminum foil
xv.Eliminate impractical product/service ideas in this stage
a)Metallic-colored fabric will be eliminated
b)Reflecting sun can create an oven effect on wearer
c)Can actually make customer hotter and not cooler
xvi.Determine the need for the new idea as well as its value to the company to ensure both prior to proceeding with ideas
a)Multiple robe colors will appeal to different people
b)Wicking-material robe will appeal to men more
c)Roll-up robe will appeal to women more
d)Can result in greater sales and market share
e)Is beneficial to company to sell more robes while meeting individual needs of customers via mass customization
We then moved on to the concept stage to further develop and refine our new product ideas through interaction with consumers. We plan on participating in trade shows to present our new ideas. We will display prototypes and obtain feedback from potential customers. Our refined ideas will then be tested to determine consumer acceptance. We will take consumer ideas into consideration and tweak prototypes accordingly. We will then consider the pricing and products of our competition and price our products accordingly to maintain a competitive edge. In the product development stage, we will determine consumers’ reactions to the physical product by allowing customers to try our robes on at trade shows. We will then participate in the test marketing stage by proving actual sales results once our products enter the market.
Alternatives for the use of e-commerce in conducting one of the product development stages for the actual commercialization of our final product idea can involve the creation of a company website that is easy to use. We will incorporate powerful search capabilities while ensuring that our site performs with acceptable speed. We will include a shopping cart, secure server connection, credit card payment, and customer feedback feature in our website. In addition, our website will be customized for specific target market groups and be compatible with various browsers. We will also track customer information by creating an electronic database that supports personal marketing. This will allow us to capture customers’ attention with customized one-to-one marketing while protecting the privacy of individuals via strong database encryption. Incorporating online operations will bring significant reductions in cost as compared to having a store. This will allow us to pass savings on to customers via lower prices and greater value.
Hisrich, Robert D., Peters, Michael P., and Shepherd, Dean A. (2008). Entrepreneurship
(7th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Wikipedia (2009). Libya. Retrieved July 23,2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya.