Got a Problem? It May Already Be Solved

Monday, 26 September 2016 07:30
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Thinking in analogies expands available solution options

Greetings! If you're in new product development, I've got some bad news for you...and some good news. Which of these would you like to learn first?

Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends...

Got a Problem?

It May Already Be Solved If you're in new product development, I have got some bad news and good news for you. First, the bad news: it's inevitable that you and your team will face problems and or challenges that you can't easily solve.

The good news is that odds are good that somebody somewhere has already solved your problem (or at least, a reasonably close version of it), though possibly in a different product category or industry than the one in which your company competes. Most people don't think to seek their answers from other product categories as they consider their problems to be unique. Fortunately, we can frequently identify viable solutions via analogy...provided we can recognize the proper analogy, of course. Some solves can be relatively simple. Others can be more challenging. Consider an example:

Hair straightening treatments contain noxious ingredients, such as formaldehyde. These chemicals can create a health hazard for hair stylists as well as customers.

To address this challenge, we should ask the question, "what other problem situations resemble this one?" Well, technology has been developed for use in the textile industry as a potential replacement for formaldehyde in producing wrinkle-free cotton fabrics. This represents a good analogy and is worth considering.

In this particular example, the formaldehyde-free technology would need to be evaluated on hair for performance. Further, its relative cost must also be assessed. Still, this approach represents a potential path. Importantly, technology providers may be willing to customize their solutions to fit other applications if the business opportunity is sufficiently attractive.

Problem solving via analogy requires being willing and able to look at challenges in very broad ways. For instance, technical approaches taken to prevent mineral buildup on stainless steel tubing in untreated water flowing systems might draw inspiration from coatings used to prevent marine biofouling of metal boat hulls.

If your particular challenge has your team stumped, we may be able to help. BFS is skilled at problem solving via analogy. We routinely work across a diverse array of product categories that provide us with exposure to situations and solutions that others don't. Contact us today to discuss your particular challenge.

"Connecting You With The Right Solutions"BFS Innovations, Inc.

Since 2005, BFS Innovations has helped its Fortune 500 clients with technology scouting, new business creation and business development services. Contact Michael today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 614 937-2408 to discuss your company's needs.

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