What makes a good idea? Good ideas in business startups usually are products, apps, desktop software, addons or plugins, and SaaS. It is common knowledge that we should only build products that are solutions to existing problems.
For a programmer like me, problems in form of bugs or missing features of software are my main source of income. And I get to formulate Good Ideas transformed into code to solve a problem.
I remember once I was tasked by my manager to create a reporting tool that will project and estimate a specific revenue output from a factory. They just said here is the table from the database and here is the formula and we want charts and graphs and export to .csv option. Careful about floating point and rounding. The popular term today is Business Intelligence report.
The code was written in Visual Basic and it reads a database from MSSQL. It was the most boring tech stack ever to be honest. So I wouldn’t bore you anymore with the details, instead, I want to focus on why they needed a projection report.
My hypothesis is that an individual or a group, who invested a lot of money wanted a tool that will help them decide how the money is going to be spent.
And why did they need the tool? let's go 1 level deep and think about how did one person in their group come to them and proposed “Hey everyone, I have an idea, we need this projection report.” For someone to submit a proposal, there must be a lingering problem that must have been on their mind.
Let's go another level deep then and figure out what is a “lingering problem” what makes people do something about it and eventually spend money to make that problem go away.
But first, what is the essence of a problem? A problem by definition in the Oxford dictionary is:
A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needs to be dealt with and overcome.
Let's divide and study the two clauses.
"A matter or situation regarded as Unwelcome and Harmful"
"and needs to be dealt with and overcome"
Let's begin with the first clause.
Unwelcome and Harmful can be considered something that someone does not accept because they have an expected situation that I would like to call a Pleasurable Experience and this Unwelcome and Harmful prevents that.
So what is a Pleasurable Experience? well we turn to philosophy.
I did not major in philosophy so please pardon my inexperienced take on this.
Epicurus (341 BCE - 270 BCE)
To paraphrase "pleasure is what every living being strives for."
A newborn infant for example will seek pleasure (the warmth of the mother) and cry when hungry. This example falls within the PleasurableBodyExperience but another pleasure is PleasureableMindExperience.
PleasureableMindExperience - is basically a pleasing imaginary mental picture. An example is how we recall past experiences of having a funny moment with friends during high school can give mental pleasure.
- Mastery of a skill or subject matter and imagining being acknowledged by the school
- Imagining having a complete collection of a set of things
So if we can just establish this basic formula on how a Problem is created:
if GoodProduct exists then I can have PleasurableBodyExperience and/or PleasureableMindExperience.
Next, the second clause that needs to be dealt with can also be broken down with levels of a certain degree of urgency.
Urgency can range from:
- Emergency where things are really bad and they need immediate help
- Annoyance that needs to go away but is not really urgent
Now the basic principle for someone would take an immediate response and spend money on a problem then the urgency should be:
- Very Urgent to somewhat urgent
Let's then revisit our formula:
Fast Food = if [Food] exists then I can have [PleasurableBodyExperience] + need it Very Urgent to Somewhat Urgent
Home = if [Shelter] exists then I can have [PleasurableBodyExperience] + need it Very Urgent to Somewhat Urgent
Movies with someone = if [Someone, Dinner, Netflix] exists then I can have [PleasurableBodyExperience] and [PleasurableMindExperience] + need it Very Urgent to Somewhat Urgent
So you may think what you have read is silly but you're still here? Great! what I would like to establish is a solid foundation for our next layer in which the solution is High in Urgency and prevents someone from having a PleasurableMindExperience? because this is probably where a lot of opportunity for creating Good Product Ideas.
In short the secret formula is probably:
Good Product Idea = if [ ___ ] exists then I can have PleasurableMindExperience + Very Urgent to Somewhat Urgent
Let's go back to the story about that projection and estimation tool I made a long time ago and figure out what was on their PleasurableMindExperience.
Their pleasureable mental thoughts are probably be:
But then what if the investment fails, we can assume the negative thoughts as well.
- Fear - they will lose a lot of money and never get it back.
Uncertainly - do we have any chance of getting back our investment?
Anxiety - can we have something to look at while we wait for the next few months to come?
Frustration - I will never be successful.
Negative thoughts will almost become their motivating factor for them to mobilize Very Urgently the Good Idea.
Now, if we could just apply the said formula:
if [ProjectionReport] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="Become Rich and Powerful"] Very Urgently so I won't lose money
Then if we just think of other business products out there:
if [SelfHelpBooks] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="Become Rich and Powerful"] + Urgently
if [LogoCreatorApp] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="Become Rich and Powerful"] + Urgently
if [SEOMarketingBlog] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="Become Rich and Powerful"] + Urgently
if [BusinessSchool] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="Become Rich and Powerful"] + Urgently
if [TodoApp] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="More productive, save time and money"] + Somewhat Urgent
if [Business SaaS] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="More productive, save time and money"] + Somewhat Urgent
if [TeacherScheduler] exists then I can have [PleasurableMindExperience="More productive, save time and money"] + Somewhat Urgent
Now my next point, these solutions may not even remove the Unwelcome and Harmfuls because PleasurableMindExperience as to being just a state of mind in a form of "Unsuccessful because I'm not still Rich and Powerful" but still sold and marketed as a solution otherwise. Therefore it's is a mere a matter perception that we only perceive these solutions to enable the PleasurableMindExperience.
Therefore to create a Good Idea, create a solution that perceives someone from enabling PleasurableMindExperience. Removing Unwelcome and Harmfuls will calm the emotions like Fear, Uncertainty and Frustration. Much like a form of tin foil hats.
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