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Entrepreneurs Tools to Determine Ideas

In the last article we explored opportunities areas. Now we are going to explore some tools to arrive at our ideas. Most sources of ideas come from technical or market requirement by universities, companies and individuals. Contrary to belief we often hear from our participants and students that they want to be entrepreneurs but to our surprise their response is “we do not have an idea and do not know how to get one”. You can get an idea by using the many tools available to you. There are more than 200 techniques available to you. We will explore 10 of these in this article.

The first technique is known as Interviewing. Here you have one facilitator. It can be the entrepreneur who then carefully selects six to twelve people for this technique. In this technique it is a discussion and not just asking questions about products to fulfil market needs. The session should last half a day and a token should be given to the participants for their time. This method can be used not only to generate ideas but also to screen ideas and concepts.

The second technique is known as classical brainstorming. In this technique we start with a problem statement. The problem should not be too broad or too narrow. We should select one facilitator and carefully select six to twelve people. In this technique a free flow of discussion takes  place to generate more ideas. All ideas generated must be recorded (Most of the ideas will not materialize). Then the group should combine all ideas and come up with one or two ideas. During this session, criticism and negative remarks are not allowed. The session should have a time limit.

The third technique is known as negative brainstorming. It is similar to Classical brainstorming. However during this session criticism and negative remarks are allowed but must ensure no personal attacks or demoralization of the group members take place. The purpose of this session is to knock an idea down. This is a good technique to be used before using the other techniques as the group will be aware of what problems they have to overcome.

The fourth technique is known as Rawlinson brainstorming. It is similar to Classical brainstorming. However during this session all feedback is directed to the facilitator and not to the group. This is a good technique if there are enough people to capture and note down all the ideas. This is a good technique for new groups.

The fifth technique is known as Value Brainstorming. It is similar to Classical brainstorming. Here we list the primary concern. Then we list hidden values that lie behind the primary concern. Then we rank the hidden values and define what each means. Then we put into action the ranked results.

The sixth technique is known as Collective notebook (CNB). Here notebook means a book to write and not a computer. The facilitator provides a notebook to all team members with a problem statement. The notebook will contain some suggestions to help generate ideas. For a month everyone writes one idea everyday in the notebook. Facilitator will provide regular related information during the month. At the end of the month each member presents summary of their idea in brief. At the end of the month the facilitator collects the notebooks and consolidates the ideas. Then all the members will view the notebooks and the facilitator’s comments to come up with the final idea.

The seventh technique is known as Five W’s and H. The W’s are Who? Why? What? Where? When? and the H is How?. This is popular in the world of journalism.

The eighth technique is known as Why? Repeatedly asking “why” questions enables to arrive at a solution

The ninth technique is known as keeping a dream diary. Before you sleep you tell yourself several times that you will not forget your dreams when you get up. When you wake up you lie quietly with your eyes closed and try and remember your dream. You need a notebook next to you to record these dreams and do not miss any day

The tenth technique is known as Relaxation. These are not only good for anxiety alleviation but also useful in idea generation. Recite a script to relax yourself.

Now that we have examined 10 methods it is worth noting that these techniques are from different areas i.e. Journalism, Engineering, Management and others. It shows that all of us rely on idea generation to execute our work. Your attention must been drawn to the fact that you may need to use several methods together to generate your idea. You select a technique which is suitable to you and your team and apply that technique.

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