Product Concept Development

Our methodology allows to quickly and effectively generate a large number of new, unusual ideas, which will give you company a competitive advantage.

 

First, we build a function model to determine the "market response" to your product/service. This model reveals the hidden compromises, with which your consumer is faced. Next, we use a Guided Idea Generation using the Inventive Principles of TRIZ to resolve contradictions and generate new ideas, which utilize, first and foremost, the functional demand of the product or service, thus raising it to a new level of quality.

 

The most effective way for your experts to become familiar with the methodology is through completing Sample Projects, assisted by experienced TRIZ specialists and accompanying GB Software. This combination leads to a significant increase in the quantity and quality of ideas. For well-defined problems, it is enough to complete the GB TRIZ Practitioner™ certification.

 

Example. Developing new plastic bags.

 

Problem

To demonstrate how using our methods can help quickly and effectively generate ideas for a new product, let's take a look at this hypothetical example. Let's imagine that it's the year 1975 and we work for the American company ZipLock. We are looking at our new ingenious product - a self-sealing plastic bag. Our task is to find and develop new ideas and concepts, which will foresee the needs of our customers and provide a stable competitive advantage.

 

Step 1. Challenge

First of all, we need to analyze the situation and determine what our product should be ideally. To do this, we need to create a list of conditions:

  • We need to create an ideal image of our object. What properties would it possess?
  • We need to input the following constrictions: Everything needs to stay the same or become simpler, but the required result needs to be reached.

Formulate Challenge: Reduce difficulty of using the bag while maintaining the same production costs.

 

Step 2. Opportunities

We need to build a function model of the system containing the problem. The fuctions in our model can be useful and harmful. The functions can interact in only two ways: creats (arrow) and counteract (line with a circle). The software automatically determines the usefulness or harmfulness of the interactions, and determines contradictory functions (yellow) - functions with useful and harmful results.

To begin, we need to answer this question: how does the consumer use our bags? Answer: First, we need to open the bag. To do this, we need to pull apart the two edges of the bag to separate the locking tracks. Next, we place items in the bag. Now we need to close the bag: to perform this step we need to align the locking tracks and while applying pressure with our fingers, slide them from one end to the other, thus sealing the bag. To discover all the existing functions in this system, we need to answer the questions of "why" we perform each of the aforementioned actions. "Why" do we pull apart the edges of the bag? In order to open the seal. "Why" do we need to open the seal? In order to open the bag. "Why" do we need to open the bag? In order to place items inside of the bag. "Why" do we need to place items inside the bag? In order to isolate them from the outside environment. Now we can test our function model by performing the opposite process and asking the question "how". "How" can we isolate our items? By putting them in the bag and sealing it. "How" will we seal the bag? And so on. As a result, the function model looks something like this:

Note, we built a function model, not a diagram of the order of operations. Aside from this, the function model needs to have more than one chain of cause-effect relationships. At this stage of the problem solving we are just recording our opinion. Once our function model is built, we need to ask ourselves: How does our consumer use the product? Surprizingly enough, very often the manufacturer and consumer have a different view of how to use the product. We ask our consumers a series of questions, in order to determine what difficulties do they face while using our bags. As a result we may receive these answers:

  • Sometimes the bag isn't sealed well and the products spoil faster.
  • Often you need to doublecheck if the bag is sealed well, which is an additional task and consumes time.
  • It's hard to see if the bag is sealed or not.
  • When closing the bag, the tracks don't always line up well and the bag may not close at all.
  • After sealing the bag, it seals so tight that the tracks get stuck and become difficult to open.

After we've heard from our consumers, we can add the "harmful" functions to our model. These harmful functions will determine the contradictions in our system. Harmful functions demonstrate which difficulties our consumers are facing and have to deal with in order to use our product. These difficulties are objective, but not desirable. If we can effectively and economically solve these problems, we can take our product to a new level and increase its competitive advantage. As a result of our research and additions, our function model will now look like this:

Now, we can determine the opportunities for innovative solutions.

 

Step 3. Ideas

Find a way to improve function: "Check bag seal".

 

GB Pro™ contains a group of Inventive Principles to improve functions. One of these inventive principles is "Combine". Using this principle leads us to the following idea: Can we create a dual system, which allows us to easier "see if the bag is sealed"? We have enough resources to realize this idea. One of the resources is the actual sealing track on the bag. The second resource is color. If we combine these resources and make the two sides of the track different colors, then once the bag is sealed, the lock will change color, showing us that it is closed. Thus, we have created a system that is almost ideal - the system shows whether the function is performed by itself. in the following photo you can see how this idea was realized. In 1987, this idea was patented. It took over a decade after the invention of the original self-sealing bag to resolve this problem.

Now, let's go back to our Function Model and take a look at one of our contradictory functions of the system.

Resolve contradiction: Function "Slide fingers along sealing track" needs to create function "Seal the bag", and needs to not cause function "Track didn't align".

 

In this case analyzing the Inventive Principles leads to the opportunity "Separate contradictory requirements in Space". The inventive principle "Nesting" recommends to move one object through an empty space inside another one. This principle can help resolve this contradiction by creating a runner that presses the tracks together and pulls them apart. The patent, shown below, describes the invention created by Dow Brands (now it is part of S.C. Johnson.) in 1996. This was 21 years after the invention of the original sealable bag.

Step 4. Concept Development

Using function models and Inventive Principles leads to quick idea generation for creating new products. Over 20 years passed between the two patents shown above. Using the method of Structured Innovation, these ideas can be generated in 5 days.

 

Conclusions

Using the Product Concept Development method, you can:

  • Determine the clients' actual needs - the Function Model helps determine how our customers use the product and creates additional opportunities for innovation.
  • Decrease development time - new concept development will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the problem, but not months.
  • Significantly accelerate the ROI (Return on Investment) - by increasing the exclusiveness of your product through new, unique functionality
  • Get a competitive market advantage - concepts of innovative products fulfill the needs of current customers and coordinate with the wishes of the next generation, thus increasing your products lifespan on the market

Contact us or one of our partners to find out more information about our methodology and receive further details about the various cooperation opportunities.