In the last few Inventing 101 posts, we have reviewed the overall four stage Creative Process and taken a dive into Idea Incubation.
This week, we are going to take a closer look at the final stage of creativity, Verification.
Let’s start as we always do, with a simple definition. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, to verify means:
To confirm or substantiate in law by oath
To establish the truth, accuracy, or reality of
So, you’ve prepared, you’ve incubated, you’ve had your “Aha!” illumination moment… you’re done right? Got the idea and you are good to go and ready to submit to Edison Nation? Not so much.
Now, the real work begins.
In the verification stage, the innovator needs to perform tests to determine whether or not what emerged in illumination satisfies the need and the criteria defined in the preparation stage.
You may be tempted to skip the verification process altogether and start the process of bringing the product idea to life. Why is that?
- We think we already know what our audience wants and will pay for.
- We’re anxious to actually begin creating something and rush through the research phase.
- We don’t know how to validate.
- A combination of all of the above.
Taking the time to verify will save you loads of time in the long run. If the solution is not satisfactory you have the opportunity to go back to the creative process from the beginning. If the solution IS satisfactory, you know you are ready to move forward.
Verifying a product idea is not about seeking smiles and nods of encouragement – you are not seeking affirmation, you want to ensure your product solution is valid and feasible.
At its most basic form, bringing a product to market is coming up with the hypothesis or idea that a group of people will use your product in exchange for money. The economics of this transaction will only work if the following two things happen:
- That something is worth more to them than the money they give to you
- The money they give to you is greater than the costs to make and deliver that something to them
How do you determine how much YOUR product idea is worth? Here are some ways to get started:
Posing a question about your problem scenario is a very easy and surprisingly helpful strategy because there are so few people actually asking others to talk about their problems in this context. Remember, the majority of ideas are born from the need to solve a problem, and from our mass market discussion a few months ago, we know that the more people that identify with a problem, the higher the likelihood the product will be popular when it hits store shelves.
One thing to remember when you start asking questions is to be comfortable with the answers you receive. It is possible that not every person you ask is going to think your idea makes sense. When you receive “crushing” feedback about your idea, (and this holds true for red X’s on your Dashboard as well), instead of viewing that feedback as an epic fail, look at it as a success. Impossible? It may seem that way at first, but then, take a moment to digest the feedback – you are in the validation process, you need to be comfortable with people poking as many holes into your story as possible. Your first instinct needn’t be how to patch the hole or provide a rebuttal – try to understand why they are poking holes. These types of responses should be treated as data points, not a criticisms. Feedback should be used as a real data point to decide to iterate the idea, stop the idea, or proceed.
Many people are concerned about the security of their idea when sharing the idea with strangers. To protect yourself, you may want to consider a PPA or requiring those being asked to agree to an NDA before starting this process.
The second thing to remember – and it does require a thick skin – is to seek out the people who will poke the most holes in your story. Most people are not comfortable with this – it just isn’t human nature to challenge an idea. You are looking for the brutal truth. Either seek out people who you know are willing to crush your ideas, or make sure you manipulate the situation so that they are comfortable with it.
RESEARCH EXISTING PRODUCTS.
You know how we at Edison Nation feel about research?
Finding competition is not always a bad thing, mainly because someone else has already spent the time and money to validate that idea for you! What YOU have to determine is how it can be done better. Your ultimate goal is to create a better version of what’s already out there.
PAY ATTENTION TO “SIGNS”
How do you find these “signs?” It’s all about reading your target audience and creating a solution that they may be asking for, even if it is not direct.
CREATE A “MINI VERSION” OF YOUR PRODUCT FIRST.
Instead of going all out with the full creation of a product, create a “mini version” to test the response. It may not be 100% fully functional, but you’ll be able to get honest feedback. A lot of people are more visual, so this will often garner a stronger response versus just asking a question or posing a scenario.
Validating a product is not easy, but it is definitely easier than spending time, effort and, in many cases, money, only to find your product didn’t turn out like you had hoped. While there is no way to 100% guarantee the long-term success of a product, these techniques can definitely increase your chances of that next green check mark!