Nurturing an idea

Not all good ideas are a lightning strike of brilliance.  Sometimes they need a great deal of nurturing before they can be truly viable.  Sometimes that nurturing requires complete rethinking of the idea and other times it’s just a matter of “lining up the train cars” and getting the thing done.  The one thing that any creative professional strives for is that single spark of an idea that can grow into something cool.  Often that rethinking of the idea can best be driven by the audience who will be using it.

When I meet with a client to discuss how we might grow their idea into reality I try and steer the conversation toward the “known knowns”.  Who is the audience?  What is the core problem we are solving?  What value does it have to the audience?  What value does it have to the client?  It’s not always easy to answer these questions in the first meeting, but tremendously valuable as it relates to two concepts: 

1. Validating the idea as viable (the benefit or return will sufficiently justify the cost to build it)  
2. Allowing me to come up with a time and cost estimate

I’ve discussed this before, but this book really changed the way I approach projects.  It’s called Breaking the Time Barrier by Mike McDerment, who founded the fantastic tool we use every day, called Freshbooks.  It made me realized that my company doesn’t sell hours, but instead we sell solutions.  Getting a client to understand the value THEY place on their idea is a great way to get them to agree with me on what I think the value is for my company to build it.  Pretty simple, but really paradigm-shifting stuff.

There are ways to overcome a lack of proper budget for really viable ideas.  For these projects I typically I recommend a phased approach.  Phase 1 might be the Proof of Concept stage where we strip the idea down into its’ basic nuggets, while keeping the detailed features on the back burner for later phases.  For internal applications (productivity tools that aren’t customer-facing), this approach can be a perfect fit.  One thing to be very mindful of is usability during the first phase.  If people don’t want to use it because it’s difficult, needless to day you won’t get funding for the next phase with all the bells and whistles.  Use the feedback you get during the first phase to guide which things you want in the next.  Frankly, this is software 101 (Alpha, Beta, FCS, Sustaining) kind of stuff.  The idea (get it?) is that you prove your concept and let your market tell you what it needs.

Call us if you’d like help growing your idea!

925 875 0504