If you’re like me, you plan and plan (and plan) to ensure everything on your “To Do” list gets completed in a balanced way. Then, reality hits. And I find myself thinking, “Where did the time go? How am I going to accomplish everything that needs to get done?”
At least I can seek solace in the fact that I’m not alone. My clients tell me they are working against the same forces, always racing to get everything done. With that in mind, I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because I have good news: we know how to help.
Our keystone process, Concentrated Concept Development™, is perfectly suited for times when there’s too much on your plate and not enough time to get it all done. Times when you are expected to develop the next big idea—in a hurry—and it better be good. The process is structured so you get more done, in less time, with better results. Lately I’ve seen it called Innovation Sprint or Concept Sprint—no matter what you call it, we’ve been using this process for more than 40 years, constantly improving and refining our technique.
After our sessions, I see clients who are both happy and tired:
- Happy, because they’re leaving with a stack of well written concepts (that are single-minded, distinct from one another, have a compelling benefit, and are based on a consumer insight).
- And tired, because the hard work and focus is done in just a few days. We literally go from generating hundreds of ideas (some bits and pieces, some more fully formed) to ending with 8-12 finished concepts that meet the project’s objective. In just a few days.
And for those times when a few days is still too much and you only have one day to spare, we developed ITG Express™ Services. This “just-the-essentials” process gets you insights and ideas from our Creative Consumers® associates (CCs), with professionally-written concepts the very next day.
We find that ITG Express works particularly well for line and flavor extensions, concept and packaging optimization, naming, claims development, and holiday or limited edition promotions.
Please don’t mistake concentrated or express for rushing. Rushing usually leads to shortcuts—and shortcuts often lead to a hot mess.
A word of caution: Please don’t mistake concentrated for rushing. Rushing usually leads to shortcuts—and shortcuts often lead to a hot mess. Although Concentrated Concept Development™ and ITG Express™ condense months of work into days, they never compromise the strategic and creative thinking that’s crucial to real innovation. They just help provide that extra dedicated focus to get the job done.
Here’s a short checklist of key steps I employ for concept development that I think will help set you up for success in the new year:
- Make it a priority to have necessary discussions, while still staying on task. This can be tricky to do yourself—especially if you have a stake in the game. Consider having someone else facilitate your next big project for you so you can participate without needing to referee.
- Narrow down your ideas based on relevant, thoughtful criteria—not just on what you like.
- “Champion” starter concepts to get the ball rolling. Concepts don’t have to be anywhere close to “finished” just out of the gates—you simply need a starting place. Putting something down on paper for consideration is half the battle.
- Fill in your opportunity gaps. If you take the time to stop and consider your range, something will inevitably jump out at you as missing—add it.
- Prioritize what rings true to your consumer insights so they have a better shot of fitting into—and solving—the consumer’s problem/need.
- Develop the best and keep moving them forward. Of course, this last bullet sounds easier than it is. The mark of a successful concept development initiative is strong concepts. You can read about it in more detail here, but here’s the highlight reel to explain what I mean by “strong concepts”:
The 4 Pillars of Strong Concepts
- Start with the best insight. One that is compelling, unique from your competitors, not too broad, and not too narrow. Think Goldilocks.
- Make sure the benefit matches the insight, and pays it off. The benefit can’t come out of nowhere. If it does, it’s not solving anything for your consumer.
- Select Reasons To Believe that clearly support the benefit. But be choosy—less is definitely more. And there’s research to prove it.
- Do a final read-through to ensure the concepts are clear. This may sound like a “no duh,” but you’d be surprised how many concepts fail to leave the reader with no clue as to what the product is or what it does. Try pretending you are a stranger—and re-read your concepts with fresh eyes—to see if they’re written clearly enough.
On that note, I will avoid stringing this article along any further—you’ve got work to do!
To discuss your goals and objectives with an Expert Facilitator, get in touch.
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Beth Storz is President and Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go. She co-authored the book, "Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral Innovation™ Approach Drives Your Company Forward." Beth has been a guest on many innovation podcasts and her work has been featured in media outlets such as HuffPost and Fortune. Beth holds a BS in Business Management from Cornell University and a MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and has worked in brand management at some of the premier consumer packaged goods companies—including Unilever, Kraft and Nabisco. Since joining Ideas To Go, Beth has established herself as a leader in the Innovation landscape and designed and facilitated projects for hundreds of companies—from CPG to financial services to pharmaceuticals.