What does “creativity” mean to you? For me, my hobby of card-making is creativity. I can combine different colors, textures, and patterns on a 5×7-inch canvas that I send with love to family and friends.
Of course, my work life also includes creativity. Solving problems and coming up with unique answers is creative work, too. However, like most adults, I often fail to equate “creativity” with trouble-shooting or any other of my day-to-day activities. Yet, working in product development demands creativity from all professionals and disciplines to successfully generate products to the marketplace.
New Product Development
New product development (NPD) is a broad term covering the design of unique technologies to the introduction of an existing product into a new market. Products span from the tangible (goods we touch, like cars or cell phones) to software and applications (search engines and instant messaging). Product managers today are often responsible for identifying new customer needs to feed the product development pipeline.
Successful product managers and product development professionals link customer needs with novel and creative solutions.
Inspired By Creativity
To deliver delightful new product solutions to our customers, we must offer them creative products and services. NPD teams use several different stimuli to understand customer needs and to identify creative solutions to those consumer problems. For example, the customer journey map (downloaded a template here) is a creative tool to track customer behaviors and satisfaction throughout the product selection and purchase process. The figure below shows another example of a customer journey map.
The customer journey map is one of my favorite tools to identify new product needs. Sometimes, we can creatively solve a customer’s need by changing how we package, deliver or market a product instead of developing additional features and functions. The customer journey map helps us identify these simple, non-technical opportunities. Keeping things simple is highly valuable in NPD!
Another creativity tool I love to use with innovation teams is brainwriting. While traditional brainstorming focuses on collaborative creativity, brainwriting first utilizes individual problem-solving to address NPD questions. Brainwriting works by presenting a problem to a group of people, typically the innovation team. Each individual, quickly and by himself, records a potential idea or concept. After a short period of time (about 30 seconds), they pass their sheet of paper to the person sitting at their right.
This person then adds a new idea or builds on the first idea. After another 30 seconds, the paper is passed to the right again. This process repeats several times until perhaps a half dozen ideas are collected on each sheet of paper. At that point, the page is returned to the originator who then selects the “best” idea. These concepts are then shared and prioritized as in a traditional brainstorming session.
Creativity Tools in Practice
Please join me for the May Product Development Lunch and Learn session on 9 May 2022 at 12 pm CDT (1 pm EDT) to learn 3 Creativity Tools. These webinars are free and full of dialogue with fellow NPD professionals and product managers. REGISTER HERE.
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