Innovation and Creativity

With this article I want to support the requirements gathering process, by combining two common characteristics of innovation processes, and creativity techniques. These are context, and guidance.

Context Driven Innovation

As you have probably experienced by yourself, innovation is often context driven, or embedded into circumstances. Here some examples for the context, which I mean:

  • Someone detects a problem “now”, and needs to start to look for a solution. Under different circumstances, there would be no need for a solution, or would not even be evident that the problem exists.
  • You design a product, and bring forward the existing state-of-the art, by using technology, which is current at that moment.

Search Techniques for Innovation

Several creativity techniques are available to help you collect ideas and requirements. Some of these techniques, such as the common brainstorming, allow total freedom in terms of the ideas, which the participants of the brainstorming-session formulate.

However, in my experiences it is helpful to guide and target the requirements collection, by using more specific guiding questions. Recently, I have read articles, which took an interesting approach to identify such questions.

They looked at important innovation, and asked for the initial question, which led to this innovation.Here the supportive guiding questions for your next creativity session:

Perfect World

  • How would our products look like, if they would implement all existing or known requirements from customers?
  • How would our product strategy change, if we had perfect information in all areas, such as about customers, use-cases, sales channels?
  • How would our offerings look like, if our quality were perfect, and our processes?

Creative Use

  • Which customer groups use our products in unexpectedly large quantities, and why?
  • Which (lead-) users use or products in a way, which we have not foreseen/ how do they use it?
  • Which non-users prefer different solutions?


  • Is any customer group neglected, and not targeted by any company in the industry?
  • Which characteristics of our (competitor’s) products or services generate the largest problems for customers, when using it?
  • Which characteristics of our products regularly hinder our sales processes, or negatively affect purchase decisions by customers?
  • Have customers significantly changed or altered our products/ which improvements did they implement, and why?
  • Do we know about product characteristics, which fragmentize our customer segments? Vice versa, would our addressable market segments change, if we would remove a given obstacle, which prevents customers from buying or using our products modification free?
  • Which customer groups take the least benefits from our products, and, and which design characteristics are responsible for this fact?

Rethinking basic assumptions

  • Which technologies that are inherited in our products have changed fundamentally, since we have reworked the processes the last time?
  • Which customer requirements change most dynamically, or drastically?
  • Our production processes rely on technologies. Which of these technologies have changed significantly, since we have redesigned the production process the last time?
  • Are we aware of potential disruptive technologies, which might affect our products, or our processes?

Competition and Industry

  • Which company – independent of their industry sector- faces similar problems, as we do? How do these companies tackle their topics?
  • Which information do we collect in our regular customer interactions that might help us solve problems in other areas of our business, or product portfolio?
  • Did we create any solution, which might increase efficiency in industry sectors, not currently targeted by our products?

Customer Intimacy

  • Which customers invest high portions of the sales price of our product to modify, change or customize our products, and why?
  • Which customer segments consume highly above/ below average of our sales or service capacity, as they demand particular attention?
  • Would we be able to satisfy the needs of all customer segments, if we would lower our costs significantly/ which customer groups would still be satisfied if we would lower costs while removing product features?
  • Which customers generate particular high/ low costs in sales, or after sales, for example, because we need to fulfill specific requirements?

Weiterführende Informationen

Das Original dieses Artikels ist auf Der Produktmanager erschienen (©Andreas Rudolph). Regelmäßige Artikel gibt es über die (→Mailingliste), oder indem Sie →mir auf Twitter folgen. In der Online Version finden Sie hier die versprochenen weiterführenden Links:

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