In problem solving, sometimes both the problem and the desired solution can be quite clear. In these instances, we have a rich understanding of what we need to achieve and what success should look like. Other times however, project teams may target solutions (usually in the form of a specific product execution) without first ensuring that this will fully address the needs that inspired it. In other words, they may prematurely define a particular execution as their preferred solution without first taking the time to prioritize the jobs that it must do....and then allowing the physical execution to follow. This can and does happen when new product teams face time pressures to hit a launch target.
I had a recent experience where it would have been understandable for my client to have leapt to a specific execution, but didn't. They challenged me to identify external providers to supply them with a product delivery system. My client briefed me with video and still images of preferred embodiments to help guide my search efforts. However, they were careful to not limit me to the specific executions they showed me in their brief. Instead, they vividly described the consumer experience they wanted the product to help create and how the sample executions they shared could help to achieve this effect. They allowed me to identify other routes to achieving this same effect. By providing me with direction without being prescriptive, and by them actively collaborating with the solution providers I identified to learn what is possible, we have collectively identified several attractive options that we almost certainly would not have otherwise. These include candidates that could turn out to represent superior alternatives to the concepts that my client shared in their brief.
In another recent experience, my client briefed me to identify seed product concept options to populate a new product category. While they had a lead product execution that served as a starting point for our briefing discussion, they encouraged me to bring them conceptual and physical options that would go beyond this and enable them to obtain deeper and more extensive consumer understanding. This effort has yielded some exciting hypotheses, some unique product forms, and possibly also IP, which would not have emerged with an overly rigid brief.
In both cases, my clients knew what they wanted to achieve, they just didn't prescribe to me how the deliverables must look and work. As a result, they have more and possibly better options to assess than they would have had otherwise.
As Mick Jagger might have sang: "You don't always want what you want. And if you try, you can find what you need."
Might this learning apply to some of your new product programs?
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.