Ways to improve an idea

In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can implement today to improve an idea.

Ideas, either in their normal form, or in the form of a product or service, just like all of us can be improved. Doing so can have massive benefits, where if your goal is to convince as many people as possible of its truth/value, the improvement can be beneficial by bringing to your circle of beliefs more people, who were once non-believers. If its a product or service, the improvement has the power to not only increase market share and interest for the product on the part of the current costumers, but also make of costumers, the kinds of people who once were not.

In the end of the day, any improvement, no matter how small is usually a good thing. The ones who are able to make something that works today better, are the ones who possess, what goes by the name of a growth mindset.

So, before anything, the most important thing you can do in order to be able to come up with a continuous flow of improvements on your ideas/product/service, is to pay attention to the kinds of thoughts that go through your mind when you’re distracted. In short a person with a growth mindset believes that life and everything around it is more like an unfinished piece of art, in which the artist can only hope to make the work a little better, as opposed to assume that after the first design, whatever results from it is all it can be. The people on the other side of the table are labeled by scientists as people with a fixed mindset. Here the person is more prone/likely to buy into any idea of “God given gifts”, and that all that matters for the success of a person is either the gifts the person was born with, or any genetic luck, where there were born with genes that give them the ability to be intelligent. Fixed mindset people are less likely to believe on the idea that hard work can shape your life, no matter how unlucky you were born.

Like most things in life, there are two sides to this problem, and none, can completely invalidate the other. Some people believe that the luck you’re born with is what shapes your life, and that the ones who become successful are the ones who where lucky to be born with luck of some kind. Others believe that we all have full control of our lives, and that we can do/get anything we want as long as we have the will for it. Any of them could be true, but when it comes to self-improvement, and the improvement of pretty much anything, one has to first believe that he/she can, with effort make something that used to be average, become something extraordinary, even if that thing is themselves.

Ways to improve an idea

Just like most things in life, there are many ways to improve an idea. Something similar happens in the area of computing programming, where more than one algorithm can lead us to the right solution. What makes this example relevant is that more than just thinking about a solution for a problem, and quickly implementing it, its more important to think about not only the problems, but also about the solutions you come up with to solve the problems you have to solve. Below are a few strategies you can implement to improve your ideas, and more important than the strategies themselves, is to take some time to test each for yourself to see how it works for you. Sometimes the most used, and often claimed to be the most effective solutions have their own way of not working for us.

1. Find out the value of the idea

One way to improve on an idea is by starting with the value it delivers in the first place. If in the end of the day you find out that the product/service you have in mind delivers no value to the target costumer, chances are that its not a good idea to go ahead and implement it. Value is value, and when something is of value, costumers eventually find their way into the product, even if such is not heavily advertised like the giants of the time. If there is value in your product or service, the next step is pretty intuitive and even bordering on the obvious. The next step is to,…, well, find a way to increase the value you deliver.

One way to do so, which is often used among the big companies of today is to decrease the price. If we perceive value as a function of the price you pay for the product/service, and what you get from it, it follows that when you decrease the price and keep the value, that being quality, or speed, etc, the costumer gets more per dollar spent. So, if you have value, and are looking for a quick way to increase the value of it, is to try to offer it for cheaper. The problem with this kind of strategy is that just like you, your competitors are always on the look for what their competitors might be doing to increase their share of the market. So, its not surprising that when one player reduces its prices, the tendency of the competition is to also lower their prices in order to match the new low. So, with this strategy also comes the need to make sure that you are the only one to whom the new low price is profitable.

Another way to increase the value the idea in the eyes of the costumer is through the good old research and development activities. I’m sure we all hear the sentence ” we get what we look for”, which is more often than not used in a negative connotation. When we hear that sentence the advice that follows comes with the goal of making us less greedy, or more conservative in some sense. Just like most things there is also another side to this coin. The other side is that when it comes to looking for improvements in pretty much any area of life, being that on our minds (knowledge), bodies, etc, the only way we can improve is by looking for ways to improve. This means not being content with the current state of affairs, and always searching for the new ways in which the idea you have can be improved.

 

2. Feedback

Feedback is by far one of the most important things we can look for if we are to spur any kind of improvement. Either that improvement is on the personal side of our lives(self-improvement), or on the broader and still important professional side of our lives. If you have a product, and you’d like to know the set of things you could to make it better, the first thing you can do is to ask the costumer. If you don’t have any costumers yet, this can still be done by making your product/service subject to tests by the kinds of people who go by the name of early adopters.

In short those people are the ones who enjoy, and often look for the chance to be the first testing/buying a certain kind of product. For them, according to the book Growth hacker by Ryan Holiday, there is no need to make the product perfect. For them, the most important thing is more what the product/service does, as opposed to the extras we all see in pretty much all already accepted products.

So, look for feedback from the costumer, and he/she will not only point the things that are not good, but also shed some light on the ideas that you didn’t think of in the first place. They are the ones who can better tell you what they need.

3. Look for other areas where you can implement it

In science, its pretty common for after a discovery of a fundamental law, for that law to be used in the unlocking of other truths that were once, just like the recently solved problem, or recently answered question, perceived as unsolvable problems or unanswered questions. Something similar happens with innovation in general. We are used to the idea that innovation is about the creation of something new out of nothing. The truth is that this is not always the case. Sometimes what the label as “innovative” is nothing more that the implementation of an idea of one field or area, to a totally new field or area. A very popular product grows in popularity, and in market reach not because of greater spending on marketing and advertising, but because the creators, or the competitors found out that with little to no tweaks, the same product or services wold be of value for another set of costumers. Computers on their early infancy were developed for war purposes, and in fact one of them ENIAC(Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), was used on world war 2. From there they were found to be useful in the corporate world, and years later, with diminished size, and a more accessible price, also useful for house owners, and then for their kids, and grand kids.

Today, computers are everywhere, and people from the different kinds, and social status use one. Either that computer is in the traditional form(keyboard, mouse, etc), or in the far more popular or diminished form of a mobile phone.

If you have an idea, either in the form of a product/service, and you’d like to know how to improve in order to attract more costumers, try to think of what kinds of people would it be useful to, and what kinds of tweaks you’d have to make to personalize the product or service to fit the needs of newly discovered costumer.

4.Cultivate a large breath of knowledge

Sometimes what makes people of insight come up with new and often overseen insights about the fabric of the universe is that they are able to look at things from a different set of lenses. Those “lenses” are the views and assumptions you make of the world around you. The problem is that more often than not those assumptions are, as scientists say: Grounded. When we say something is grounded to a field it means in simple terms that it is build/developed around a specific field. Think of physics for example. The sets of symbols we can observe on the formulas can be said to be grounded in physics. Sometimes we can see similar symbols being used in different areas of science, but taking different meanings. We can only can think of a specific symbol in different ways if we see it taking different meanings in different situations. As the old saying goes: “for a man with a hammer all problems look like nails”.

Here is where cultivating a larger breath of knowledge can help you not only improve on your old ideas, but also come up with new ones. When you know about more than one field, you not only know more, but also consciously or unconsciously inherit the views, and ways of thinking of the field. When we come up with an idea to solve a problem, we do so through a specific way of thinking. Those are what the ingredients such as salt, onions and garlic are to the cook. The more strategies and methods of thinking you have on your tool belt the better you are to come up with better solutions.

The chemist thinks about the world in terms of atoms and chemical reactions, while the computer scientist can think of the same world in terms of routines that have the power to solve specific problems. Each view can help you solve a specific set of problems, and combined, you can expand the volume of problems you can solve. You see how important this is the moment you think of improving an idea, in whatever form it might present itself as a problem to be solved.

Summary

Improvement of any kind is mostly in the mind. If you believe something can be improved the mind will present you with potential improvements. The opposite mindset on the other hand, will be at best limiting to your ability to improve the world around you, since the initial assumption is that there is nothing to improve.

 

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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