An insight into how we create new ideas (that work) for products in the market
Often, coming up with successful new ideas is hard. It’s also one of the most important aspects of an innovative business. If we are honest, innovation doesn’t exist without great new ideas.
At Directors of the Extraordinary we pride ourselves on having products that really push the boundaries of what has been done before and making those new ideas work for our customers.
If you are not familiar with our company, we design and deliver high fidelity immersive experiences for corporate team building, school education and public entertainment. In short we make amazing ideas about interactive design come to life, and make them accessible for wide demographics of people.
One of the most common questions we get asked is how we come up with our ideas?
For us, it boils down to a few key principles.
1. Listening to the market
Our first principle is to always design with the customer or market in mind. Through networking, listening to the comments of our clients and customers and keeping a close eye on market trends internationally, we can usually pick out the current appetite for something new.
If that is a new corporate team building or social experience or something new in the public entertainment space, this is where we start. Sometimes it is as simple as a client asking us for something to fill their specific need.
An example of this is hearing many companies expressing their desire for something fun and social they could do with their team that does not rely on consuming alcohol or going out to eat. This was often stated off-hand in a broader conversation, but because we were listening – bingo! There is a desire for a corporate social experience.
2. Testing how our ideas are received within the market
Once we have a broad idea based on market trends, we then use our networks to test these early stage ideas. We do this through conversations; describing the product in some detail and asking for genuine feedback.
We aim to do this across multiple layers of the market. We talk to clients who will directly interact with the product; those who would book our services on behalf of another team and those who may not directly work with our clients but have a good overall picture of where the market is sitting.
Very early in our own business journey we made a conscious decision to be open with sharing our ideas and not keeping our secrets close to our chest. Sometimes this has been questioned with comments such as, ‘aren’t you afraid of others stealing your ideas?’.
Our experience has proven the opposite. Rather than stealing our ideas, our networks are asking how they can help make them them into reality.
3. Testing feasibility of the ideas
A new design structure we have put in place this year includes blocking out a few dedicated hours of time to ‘sprint’ test our ideas. These are really used to further test feasibility from multiple lenses;
- Design and development implications; do we think this is possible?
- Commerciality (including scalability); will this support our business financially?
- Timelines of implementation
Sometimes this results in ‘full steam ahead!’ or ‘let’s hold on this one’ or ‘this won’t work’. The third result being the hardest to swallow, especially when we are excited by the new shiny thing. Being honest and strategic in these discussions is the key for us building sustainable business practice.
4. Our 3 magic questions
Once we have established an understanding the market appetite and set aside our sprint time we start with asking ourselves three simple questions which spark the flow of ideas:
- What is the most fun thing I would like to experience if I was customer X?
- What is a well-known ‘hook’ that we can use to underpin our experience (Gatsby, Zombies, Detectives, International Espionage… see a pattern?)
- What if…
For us, that is usually the hardest part! We are fortunate to have a talented team who can quickly action design and production across multi disciplines.
Of course, the final piece of the puzzle is overlaying all of that with what we call ‘the lense of Extraordinary’. Thinking outside of the box and through the gritty details that you won’t see as a customer, that truly brings the spark of extraordinary.
Finish with high fives and fist pumps. We can’t wait to bring the next extraordinary experience to life. #nailedit