Old Problems, New Perspectives

Thus far, our coursework has introduced us to the various technologies and processes at our disposal as we begin our journeys as 3D makers. This week’s content encouraged us to engage all we have learned about the ideating process, as we began developing potential ideas for our final projects. Our brainstorming session was entirely focused upon identifying a need (or a problem to solve), and then developing a solution; we were to avoid immediately deciding upon a product, as this would streamline our thinking at too early of a stage. This concept of total freedom and creativity was introduced in “Creative Sparks”, which discussed the infrastructure necessary to effectively brainstorm.  It also ensures that the product or service at hand will fulfill a real need or provide a solution to a problem existing in the real world, as discussed in “Ten Ways to Evaluate a New Business Idea.” These articles provide an excellent framework to consider when pursuing a given idea, and serve as excellent guidelines for developing a product that will translate to real world success.

This approach is crucial when partaking in any sort of creative brainstorming process. In Mary Barbour’s “Better Content Ideation Through Lateral Thinking”, she discusses the importance of being able to approach age-old problems from a new perspective. It is this ability that distinguishes innovators from the rest of the population; one does not need to be presented with a new problem in order to develop a unique solution. One of my favorite takeaways from this article was the point that sometimes the most effective way to brainstorm is to identify the most obvious ways to proceed when faced with an issue, and then ask oneself how to proceed if those options were not viable. This helps structure the ideating process. Dorie Clark’s “How to Think Like An Innovator” brings these ideas into context on a more personal level, urging you to assess your own strengths and weaknesses when developing a concept (this idea was prominent in our assigned readings for the week.) Finally, Clark encourages assessing from both an industry perspective (perhaps through a SWOT analysis) as well as considering the opinions of specialists far removed from the industry; this provides an accurate depiction of the product’s role from both an internal and external perspective.

I now have a much stronger understanding of what questions I should be asking myself as my group and I being to refine our ideas, and define exactly how our product will function. These articles brought up issues that we did not consider in our initial brainstorming sessions, and therefore will overturn some of our previous assumptions. For example, Clark highlights “What trend is most threatening to your industry right now?” as crucial question to consider. When developing our idea of a contraption that can be attached to trash cans in order to compact and push down trash; in doing so, a household can reduce the number of trash bags they go through in a given amount of time. While this has financial incentive for students such as ourselves, one of the largest threats to the plastic goods industry is the environmental impacts – therefore, we can market this product as an environmentally friendly option, and tap into a large demographic of customers that may previously have been less interested in our product. In summary, these lessons have been formative in how I approach product development and creative thinking.