The Numbers Game: The Process of a Great Idea


Cultivating a great idea into a product and being able to disregard other ideas is a valuable skill when developing a new product. I like to call my process ‘The Numbers Game’.

  • Brainstorming – 10,000 Thoughts give you 1,000 Ideas.
  • Feasibility – 100 Ideas are worth writing about, talking with peers, making drawings, reading articles about.
  • Concept Building and Prototyping – 10 Ideas are worth putting real money and energy into. Throw something together and see what comes up.

Having a Great Idea is a process. It takes a lot of time and effort to have a Great Idea.

It is a numbers game.

  • Was that 999 Bad Ideas?
  • Was that 99 Wastes of Time?
  • Was that 9 Wastes of Money?

No, it is all learning, and it is part of the process.

Betting It All

One idea is going to be the idea you can bring to market. It is important to keep in mind that just because you think it is a great idea, doesn’t mean it is an idea that can or should be effectively monetized.

You really need to consider if THIS is the ONE idea that you’re going to bet on or should you maybe shelf it for a short while and see what other ideas you may be able to develop.

Here are some things that you should consider when deciding what idea you want to turn into a product.

Problem Definition

  • What problem does this solve?
    • The problem definition informs the requirements. The way you choose to describe the problem you’re trying to solve will have an impact on the range of potential solutions that will be considered. Don’t be a hammer looking for a nail. Don’t create a solution without a problem.
    • With a pen on paper, write down a detailed idea of what the problem is you think needs a solution. Do not get distracted by the solution you’re coming up with, but instead focus intently and directly on the problem. Spend the time it takes to really nail down what is the problem that you’re trying to solve. The way you choose to describe the problem you’re trying to solve will have an impact on the range of potential solutions that will be considered.
    • Can this idea/product solve this problem?

Market Research

  • Who is experiencing this problem and will they spend money on this?
    • What is the type of person who would spend the money?
      • Where do they work?
      • Where do they live?
      • What is their customer profile?
    • What trends are there?


  • How much of this can do yourself?
  • What resources do you have?
  • Budget – How much money can you set aside specifically for this project?
  • Knowledge
    • What research have you done?
    • What pieces of knowledge do you already have?
    • What knowledge can you reasonably learn?
    • What knowledge will you need to buy?

Do as much as you can yourself early on, but be ready to hand it off when you hire a designer.

The further along the process you go, the more time and cost you are adding to the process when you make changes to the product.

It is important that you take the time to develop good ideas to create idea. Refining your problem definition will help you separate good ideas from the one you’re going to take to market. Take as much of your time as you can in the process. The more time you spend here the less money and time your development cycle cost.

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