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Product Inventors: Vital Questions You Forgot to Answer

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 7, 2008

Some inventors come to me and say, "I have this idea. It’s the only one of its kind. It’s brand new. No one has ever thought of it! In fact, everyone wants it!" And I ask, "Well, what other products are there like it?" When they respond, "No, really! There aren’t any other products like it!" I have to stop and tell them: "There might be a reason for this."

Maybe the reason there isn’t anything like it is because there isn’t a need for it.

Beyond the initial question about the practicality of your product, there are two more key questions you must answer before moving ahead with a great idea. You’re excited because you’ve conceived a product that is new and fresh. But originality and novelty aren’t synonymous with necessity, and don’t always equal success. Some products simply don’t exist for a reason.

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Reader Comments


March 8, 2008 2:55 PM

Your logic implies that all possible ideas have already been figured out, tried, and tested. Being innovative means trying something that no one else thought of before. The only way to find out how a particular idea will be received by a large public (read consumers) is to try it since it is quite often virtually impossible to predict its success or failure! So try to keep your mind open and think outside of the boudaries of conventional "wisdom."


March 21, 2008 8:20 AM

Working for a company that regularly receives ideas from folks who believe they have created the "best thing since sliced bread", I think Stephen's article is dead on. He is not discouraging people from pursuing truly unique innovations. He is simply pressing people to look at their ideas objectively from a business point of view: is there a market? can this be manufactured cost effectively?. While this analysis seems obvious to most R&D folks and Product Managers, we often see Joe Inventor on the street spend large chunks of their life savings to prototype and patent products that nobody wants. It's hard, but you have to avoid the "beautiful baby" syndrome.

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