Industryweek 1692 13262lightning

Bookshelf -- Idea Engineering

Dec. 15, 2006
Talk to consumers one person at a time.

Lightning In A Bottle (2006, Sourcebooks Inc.), a new book by authors David Minter and Michael Reid, likely overpromises with its secondary title, "The Proven System to Create New Ideas and Products That Work." "Proven" is one of those words like "guaranteed" that is guaranteed to raise eyebrows in disbelief of anyone who believes that nothing is for certain.

That's not to suggest the tome isn't worth a look. Minter and Reid, principals of a Denver-based idea development firm, provide readers in a compact 224 pages their seven-step Idea Engineering process to dramatically improve success rates in new product development. Along the way they share insights gleaned from more than 25 years of experience, including an opposition to focus groups as a means to developing new ideas. Instead, they suggest: Talk to consumers, not in groups, but one person at a time.

"This probably goes contrary to everything you have ever heard," the authors note. "The main reason is that interviewing people one at a time takes a lot of time. Lots and lots of time." On the other hand, focus groups occur too quickly. "At the end of the night you are trying to figure out what the people said and what they meant."

Lightning In A Bottle also is dotted with case studies, as well as its own Top 10 list of why ideas fail.

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