Tips for coming up with ideas
This page provides information for coming up with ideas at times when this is proving difficult.
However, if your way of thinking is vague, you tend to come up with the same kinds of ideas all the time. If you work with certain constraints when thinking up ideas, it is easier to get more ideas.
Osborn's nine-point checklist is a strategy that brings together these constraints to enable to you be able to come up with ideas in such a way. The checklist is a technique that makes it easy to come up with new ideas from a multifaceted perspective by changing your way of looking at existing products and services and the angle from which you view them.
It’s great to refer to the checklist if you are having trouble coming up with ideas.
1. Other Uses/ 轉用
“Try thinking about other uses”
The technique of “putting to other uses” refers to working with existing products and services, but exploring the possibility of other uses for them.
- Can existing materials and technologies be used in other fields?
- Can existing products be used in different ways with very minor formal changes being made?
- Can existing products be used by different users?
Hermes was a harness workshop that came to center its business on saddles after it was established in 1837. With the appearance of automobiles at the end of the 19th century, Hermes techniques for making saddles were put to use in the fashion industry, in anticipation of the decline of carriages. Hermes was recognized for its durable bags that could be used for car trips, eventually leading to the luxury fashion brand that is the Hermes we know today.
2. Adapt / 應用
“Borrowing ideas from other places"
“Adapt” refers to the creation of another value by borrowing ideas from products and services in other industries and fields.
- Is there any part in other fields that could be imitated?
- Is there any part in past examples that could be imitated?
- Are there any animals or plants that have similar characteristics to the product?
Dyson is famous for its cyclonic vacuum cleaners. The idea for this new vacuum cleaner mechanism, whose suction is just as strong as conventional vacuum cleaners, came to James Dyson when he saw a cyclone device that separated sawdust from the air installed on the roof of a nearby factory.
3. Modify / 變更
"Try changing colors and shapes"
“Modify” refers to considering whether new demand could be created by changing something in existing products and services.
- What would happen if we changed the color, shape, smell, texture?
- What would happen if we changed the place where it is used?
- What would happen if we changed the meaning of the product?
White-colored products are mainstream in the sanitary goods industry, but sales for Q-tips increased simply by changing their color from white to black. Black Q-tips became a big hit product offering a new value: being able to clearly see the gunk that the Q-tip has removed.
4. Magnify / 擴大
“Try making it bigger"
“Magnify” refers to considering whether there is a demand that could be satisfied by making something larger.
- What would happen if we made it bigger, longer, stronger, thicker, heavier?
- What would happen if we expanded the place, users, purpose?
- What would happen if we increased the number of times, the time?
G-SHOCK is a tough watch that will not break even when dropped. It became a huge hit by renewing the image of watches as precision products and by daring to make a watch that’s big and tough.
5. Minify / 縮小
“Try making it smaller"
“Minify” refers to considering whether there is a demand that could be satisfied by making something smaller.
- What would happen if we made it smaller, shorter, weaker, thinner, lighter?
- What would happen if we minified the place, users, purpose?
- What would happen if we decreased the number of times, the time?
The Walkman revolutionized the way we listen to music. From a conventional tape recorder, the Walkman’s function was narrowed down to playback only, and by minaturizing, the Walkman gave birth to a style of “carrying music around.”
6. Substitute / 代替
"Try substituting something else"
“Substitute” refers to considering whether new demand could be created by substituting something else for existing products and services.
- What would happen if we substituted a different material?
- What would happen if we substituted a different manufacturing method?
- What would happen if we substituted different usages or locations?
IQOS is a heated cigarette that changed our basic concept of cigarettes. By using heat instead of flame, it create a kind of cigarette that does not emit ash or smoke, giving birth to a new demand.
7. Rearrange / 置換
“Rearrange” refers to considering whether something new could be created by disassembling and reassembling the components of existing products and services.
- What would happen if we changed the order, the sequencing?
- What would happen if we changed the combination?
- What would happen if we replaced it with another word?
Traditionally, correction to eyesight problems was what we wanted out of eyeglasses, and the main products sold in eyewear stores were prescription eyeglasses with corrective lenses. JINS, however, developed lines of glasses that featured functions that had never existed before, such as glasses that relieve computer eye strain thus expanding the market for eyewear.
8. Reverse / 逆轉
“Try it the other way round"
“Reverse” refers to considering whether new demand could be created by reversing the components and concepts of existing products and services.
- What would happen if we reversed the top/bottom, left/right, front/back, top/reverse, the order?
- What would happen if we treated things that were negatives as positives?
- What would happen if we reversed the roles?
Traditionally, footwear emphasized things like stability and ease with walking. In contrast, Reebok's EasyTone walking shoes became a big hit because they actually had soles structured to be unstable and make it difficult to walk. This reversed conception—from negative to positive—which was expressed in ideas such as “being able to tone your core muscles because the shoes are unstable” and “increased exercise efficiency” is what made the product such a hit.
9. Combine / 結合
“Combine” refers to considering whether something new can be created by combining different things or bringing them into union.
- What would happen if we combined multiple things into one?
- What would happen if we added something to an existing product?
- What would happen if we combined things old and new?
The iPhone appeared on the market as a device combining three different functions: the iPod, which is a digital audio player; a mobile phone, and a portable information terminal that can send and receive emails and access the Internet. A completely new market was born when Apple released the first iPhone in 2007.