Expand Your Ideas Using Google:
Six Steps for New Product or Service Development

By Larry Kilham

When you think of a bright idea for your business you want to research further, you want to do it now. Your neurochemicals are flowing. Your neurons are alertly looking for new connections. Your brain is stepped up to an emotional high. While it is there, avoid procrastination! Keep moving while you can see all of the project’s interrelationships. While fear of failure is undoubtedly present, on balance you will feel better about yourself if you pursue the emerging development while your mind is in high gear.

A good search engine, such as Google, can make developing a new product or service much more efficient and insightful. Often its use leads to serendipitous results for first-time users trying to find solutions to new problems. How do you know when to start creating with Google and how to go about it? It’s much easier when you have an actual creative design challenge. It helps greatly to have the motivation of getting useful information tied to a real goal.

What is the optimum way to make use of Google’s comprehensiveness and speed? In addition to following the basics of any well-designed search project, there are at least six important steps:

1) Narrow the search and find prior solutions: This is the time to engage your curiosity and surf all around in Google and other web sources. Get a sense of the lay of the land. Which direction do you want to be headed? Has somebody already developed the product or service you were seeking to invent? If not, why not? Have some obstacles unforeseen by you been discovered by others? Can you still envision a solution, not yet offered on the Web, which is worth pursuing? What are the key technical or design problems that need to be overcome? Can your resources and ingenuity successfully address them?

2) Postulate a design or system solution: From what you have now learned from the Web, can you make sketches of your imagined creation? For example if it is a mechanical design, can you envision the placement of motors, gears, shafts, controls and so on? If it’s electronic, can you draw a block diagram and logic flow chart for which specific circuits, IC chips and software can be dropped in later?

3) Look for design elements on the Web: Check the Web and other sources for suppliers and parts and ingredients for your creation. Sometimes seeing different parts or ingredients than you originally had in mind will cause you to improve your design. It never hurts to order some key parts and start physical experimentation, if for no other reason than to further focus your mind on the essence of the solution.

4) Design and redesign: This is also part of the relentless quest for full understanding of the process and perfection in action. When new products or services are created interactively with Google, iterate back and forth keeping in mind both the big picture and the details. This is the dual focus between you and the computer clouds for greatest creativity.

You can tweak your design too much or too little. It is important to know when to stop tweaking your invention. Most people tend to err on the side of premature product introduction. In retrospect, most inventions would have been better to not worry so much about being first to market and better to have worried about reliable product performance.

5) Find other people, companies and projects with similar interests with whom you can communicate: It often happens that you will have chance encounters in cyberspace as well as individual people ferreted out on the Web who may be of special interest to you such as professors, writers, skilled tradesmen, software writers and the like. Of course not all of your new acquaintances may turn out to be as friendly or useful as they first appear--some may well turn out to be jealous or competitive - but it’s best to get involved with other people at this point and weed out the undesirable ones as you go along.

6) Organize notes and source material: In the past, note taking, indexing and filing consumed disproportionate amounts of project time. While this essentially manual process will never be eliminated completely, Web services such as Google, plus similar information access technology for use on data stored in your computer, make it easier to manage a database.

By noting search terms that work particularly responsively in Google, in effect you have defined personal space in Google search. By using a search engine to find things in the impossibly large and growing database in a personal computer, personal database is more responsive to queries and hopefully, no data or insights are lost.

In addition to gathering information, Google can also channel the creative mind into the unique imagination space that could not be found by simple daydreaming. Seeing what potential suppliers of parts and services do, and seeing the features of similar product designs, can give you new ideas to fine-tune your focus. If this tack is not productive, give your mind free rein to wander again. This is stepping back and searching anew for the way forward.

You should not overlook using Google or other search engines and Web resources to research the early history of your business, product or service. This history notably would include the pioneering big thinkers in the field. It can be very revealing to see what they thought about the important issues. The original thinkers in various areas were, by nature, very curious and often expressed themselves in a frank and wondrous manner. While their naïveté in hindsight may seem laughable, on the other hand they often spoke in straightforward terms that paid no attention to offending colleagues or to political correctness. They noticed things that might be worth reexamining.

Read other articles and learn more about Larry Kilham.

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