I am often asked my managers and leaders to help them facilitate ideation or brainstorming sessions as part of a new product development process.

One thing i do have in my favour is that I can see new products everywhere (or at least lots of new product ideas).

It is not that I am special — quite the opposite.

But I use a tool that helps me to see new product ideas everywhere i go.

I call it the core and the expression

Draw two concentric circles.

In the inner one label it core.

In the outer one label it expression.

Whenever i am presented with an idea or concept (i.e. more developed idea) I ask myself what is the core or essence of this idea?

For example, the core of a frequent flyer program is to retain and reward your best customers.

I then try and discern what is the expression of this core idea. In the example above a frequent flyer program has points, a statement, prizes, special access etc.

Sometime when we reject an idea it is because we do not like the way the idea is expressed.

But in these circumstances the core idea could be a very good one.

Thinking on these two levels means that new product ideas suddenly appear.

Ask yourself when you next walk down the street or visit a store or look at a new product or service – what is the core idea here?

If it is a good core idea ask yourself whether you could adapt it to your industry or category.

Using this tool and way of thinking you can become a new product development idea generating machine.

What’s more you will become much better at receiving and evaluating ideas because you will be able  to separate the core from the expression.

Yours in ideas,

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