A solid, high-potential, innovative idea for a new product may not be recognized as such at the start. So, don’t laugh at any idea until it has been carefully examined.

As Knowledge@Wharton reports: “At Reebok, the cushioning in a best-selling basketball shoe reflects technology borrowed from intravenous fluid bags. Semiconductor firm Qualcomm’s revolutionary color display technology is rooted in the microstructures of the Morpho butterfly’s wings. And at IDEO, developers designed a leak-proof water bottle using the technology from a shampoo bottle top. These examples show how so-called ‘peripheral’ knowledge — that is, ideas from domains that are seemingly irrelevant to a given task — can influence breakthrough innovation. ‘The central idea of peripheral knowledge really resonates,’ says Wharton management professor Martine Haas. After all, who can’t think of examples when ideas that seemed to bear almost no relation to a given problem paid off in some unexpected way? By bringing peripheral knowledge to core tasks, it is well known that work groups can recombine ideas in novel and useful ways. But the problem, Haas notes, is primarily one of attention: How do you get workers focused on a particular task to notice — and make use of — seemingly irrelevant information?”

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5 Replies to “Don’t Pooh Pooh Any Product Ideas Until You Think Them Through”

  1. Designing, developing, and tweaking a product can cause many different reactions from many different people. For example, in the beginning processes of any product, many people decide to shun the idea, and product itself, away. They simply do not take the time to consider what uses this new product could possibly have. They might see no relevant concept in taking one idea that is used for one product, and incorporating it into another completely different product. However, that is where the genius decides to show itself. Great innovators may mix many different ideas in order to have strong, stable, and beneficial products in the long run.

  2. Any idea at the very beginning of its life can either be shunned or embraced. If embraced, the right group of people need to be together to brainstorm and make the idea into an innovative product that could potentially be a success. Personally my Reebok basketball shoes are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned by the way!

  3. This is good advice — and it should be used in all dealings. You shouldn’t simply write an idea off as being a “bad idea”. All inventions need to start somewhere and sometimes, the craziest idea is usually the best! To improve on products, some technologies may be borrowed. If an invention works better with a shampoo bottle top, why not use? It’s all about putting the best product you can in the market.

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