Lateral thinking is in action when an individual or a group tries to make incremental changes in a mature product. Did that go over your head? It did for me when I read it for the first time. Read it again, if it helps.
A mature product is utility/item/gadget which has all the possible features one can aspire for, and there is very little that can be added. For example…let us take Yahoo Messenger. Is there a feature you can think of, which the Yahoo team has failed to include?
For our lateral thinking exercise, let us take a product we use every day – Mobiles. Is there any feature that currently doesn`t exist on mobiles but you would want included?
I thought for a while and came up with this:
The Alarm a Friend Feature Today`s mobiles don`t allow me to send an alarm to a friend`s mobile. Wouldn`t it be great if I could send an alarm to a friend`s mobile which would alert him a day before my birthday? I could send this alarm a week before my birthday – and unlike an SMS, it wouldn`t just lie in his inbox but would start beeping at the time and date I had set.
After one of the comments, I tried my Nokia N70 and there indeed is a ‘Alarm a Friend’ feature. I thought hard…laterally of course….and here is another feature I want my mobile to have:
SMS Signature I have 479 contacts in my mobile…and I end up sending a universal SMS to all at least once every year (stuff like my baby daughter’s birth). And on an average I send at least 10 SMSes every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a SMS Signature, which would allow me to send my blog url at the end of every SMS? Just like our e-mail signatures. Now, don’t you leave a comment saying the feature already exists. Is there any god damn feature the mobile guys haven’t thought of?????
Anything you can think of?
PS: If innovation & creativity excites you please read The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelly. After reading the book, you might be interested in IDEO – a company that helps innovate through design.