Monday, January 28, 2013

Holding The World’s Largest Gripe Session

Eric Schulz
Eric Schulz
We all know that person who can gripe about anything.  A beautiful day with blue skies and 78 degrees (wouldn’t that be nice right about now), and they complain about pollens making them sneeze, bugs or anything else they can think of. 

While griping is hardly ever encouraged, this week in my marketing classes I took off the gloves for an hour and declared our time together as “The World’s Largest Gripe Session." "Complain to your delight!" I told them. "What bugs you? What do you hate?"

It was wonderful. Everything from “I hate scraping ice off the inside of my car windows," to “I hate not having a place to put my backpack under my seat," to “I hate when the dryer eats my socks.”  In just one hour the class generated over 1,500 complaints and gripes!  Why did I open up the class to nothing but negativism and criticism? Because within gripes and complaints are the seeds for innovation!

Now we will take those seeds of problems and use them as inspiration in DESIGN THINKING, designing and creating new products and services to solve these very problems.  For example, using the three gripes above, great new product ideas jump out — what about a hot can of air to melt the inside ice on your car window?  Or an ice scraper with the right bend to conform to scraping the INSIDE of your car window?  Or adding backpack holders under the seats in classrooms (similar to the holders on the California Adventure ride at Disneyland)?  Or what about “Snap Socks” where your sock all now have a snap at the top to snap them together before washing and drying so that one of them doesn’t fall prey to the dryer monster? 

If you are looking for new ideas, BEFORE you start brainstorming, do a giant gripe session to identify problem areas, and your time spent creating new ideas will be much more fruitful and useful!