What does it mean to brainstorm topics? Next steps for co-creation

Written by: Renee Chin. Posted: March 02, 2014. 


While reading through the meeting notes and categories of topic suggestions that Richard Caro provided from the second Meetup on the Future of Ageing, I noticed that many of the topics were framed as solutions or ideas for solutions  -- not as topics or areas on which we might want to collaborate as a group.

Solutions vs Topics

Coming up with solutions or ideas around a particular technology or product – first -- before identifying and understanding peoples’ needs, gaps or aspirations is actually quite common. As someone that does both qual and quant research for the purpose of longer-term business strategy and product development, I see this happen all of the time.  Whenever there is a group of passionate, talented and skilled enthusiasts, it is easy to jump into the solution space before being clearer about what we see as the needs of people.

Brainstorming for Next meeting

For the next meeting, I suggest, and Richard agrees, that we do more brainstorming on what needs we think people have. We are jumping ahead of ourselves and it’ll be well worth co-creating a stronger foundation for ideas and solutions to emerge (at a later meeting) by first taking the time to identify needs. We can use the BUT model, which stands for Business, User (people) and Technology.

Once we have brainstormed a gaggle of needs, we can then cluster them into larger areas - with additional drill downs  -- about which needs we really would like to address (perhaps by voting). It is only then that we can think about which technologies or solutions are possible and which business models/benchmarking make sense.

Some topic and solution examples

For a couple of easy examples, one might say “To stay in touch with family and friends,” or “To stay physically active”. For those that already have ideas for solutions, aim to frame the solution in terms of needs, gaps, or aspirations -- “To use well designed products that look and feel good” (just because we’re aging, doesn’t mean our products should look like that too). I also noticed that some people felt that they didn’t have ideas. Part of the reason for why this was happening is because we haven’t clearly defined a larger set of needs. The ideas will emerge from better understanding needs first.

What ages are we targeting?

Aside, I am also wondering if we want to brainstorm needs for a continuation of age brackets. Are we focusing only on people 65 -70 and beyond? For example, if we are aiming for aging in place, this means that we’re also thinking of people that are still active and who want to prepare for aging in their home or in a community. Are we focusing only on mature markets (e.g., US, Europe, Japan)?

See you at the next meeting.



Reader Comments: "What does it mean to brainstorm topics? Next steps for co-creation"


from jschrempp (member) at March 23, 2014

First let me say that I love The Design of Everyday Things. I've read it twice myself and have recommended it to soooo many people. It was a most excellent whack on the side of the head.

I agree that spending time to really define a set of problems is worthwhile. I think there are lots of people ready to solve aging problems, but they have no first hand experience with the problem. It can lead to hearing aids for older people that require the eyesight of a younger person to operate.

A problem definition, background information, and a solution become a "recipe".

Our group could work to define a number of problems and explore them from many directions. Then for each we could talk about solutions that exist today and where they fall short. Then a visioning exercise for each to describe a great solution. We might even have several great solutions, each solving a different aspect of the problem we defined.

Knowing this structure ahead of time would also let our discussion jump around a bit. In our group some people will always want to offer solutions immediately. Rather than shut them down, we can let them talk about the solution, log it, and ask them to write it up to add to the recipe. Then we bring the group back up to the higher level discussion of the problem and continue. With a meet-up group like ours we have to accept that the path to the end will not be linear. As facilitators we have to keep the end goal in mind and guide the group to it.

Our end objective could be to create a "recipe book" of well defined problems with excellently described solutions. With these recipes available to everyone in the world, some creative people looking for things to make might just pick some of ours and the world would then have the solution available to use.

As a side effect, by publishing our solutions we make it more difficult for someone in the world to invent the idea later and take it out of the public domain. Once we have a solution published, then it's there for everyone to use.


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