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What is a good concept, when is it shaped - and who is to judge?

We spend a lot of time wondering how we make our products the best it can be – and how we actually asses what “good” is.

As inventors, we’re often wondering what makes a good concept, and when in the process it’s really shaped. At what time are we really creating the value for the project?

So far, we’ve come to the conclusion, that the most valuable part of the process is in the initial concept creation: If a project is founded on a bad concept, it will never be successful.

But this just raises two new questions: How do you create the best circumstances to create a great concept, and how to you decide, if the concept you’ve developed, is the best it can possibly be?

Circumstances: Create as many different ideas as possible

Great products always start with a problem that needs to be solved, and when the problem is defined we always start as openminded as possible.

We need to infuse the project with as many different ideas as possible from the beginning instead of being set on a solution from the get-go. And even when the ideas start to take shape as more complete concepts, we always strive to keep several ideas alive for some time while we dig deeper into each of them.

With physical products, a great way to do this is by making tangible concepts as early on as possible. This is of course time-consuming, but almost every time we go out of our way to test an idea as a pretotype, it turns out to be a much better way to assess its potential instead of keeping the concept on a piece of paper.

You can also read our post on pretotyping here: Hustle your way to a physical mockup - and fail fast

Picking the pegasus or the mule?

Deciding what the best concept is can be tricky. We might have pretotyped a few different ideas which each have its perks and challenges to be solved.

A great indication is, however, to ask ourselves if the pretotypes looks more like a mythical creature (fabeldyr) or a mule?

While the mythical creature is always more enticing in the beginning, the wow-factor and intricate features might be what gets in the way of the product just being a hardworking tool efficiently solving the problem. In other words: The mythical creature could be a picture of a bad concept.

However, the right concept isn’t something that can be picked by us alone. The further down the product-development we get, the more we need feedback. Preferably feedback from someone who hasn’t seen the solution before.

While getting feedback from end-users might seem like the obvious choice, it isn’t always. Sometimes they are too caught up with how they use to do things and have a hard time acknowledging why a new way might be better.

We often use each other in the office – someone who has been working on a different project – or outside experts who know the field but don’t have to depend on the solution as end-users. And if we can provoke the sentence ”this is really clever!” when showcasing a new product, it’s often a really good indication that we’re on to something. Even if the feedbackers have a hard time explaining further why it’s so clever, the gut-feeling goes a long way.

Concept vs. innovation

Even though we’ve successfully brought a series of product to market, we still frequently ask ourselves these question as they are so central to what we do.

If you have a different way to evaluate if your new product, solution or add-on is on the right path, we would love to hear your thoughts!

#Prototyping #Concept

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