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.
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
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.
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