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Intuition, Tinkering, Hacking and Problem Solving

 

Really Big FootI was with my web resource who is also involved in the Makerspace movement.  I was asking him about 3D printing and the whole Makerspace activity.  He made a point that the movement is not about “making” as much as it is about thinking.

So, what can you learn from this movement?

Do you have a challenge to overcome in your business?  Have you been told that you need to “think outside the box”?  Consider using intuition, tinkering and hacking to get you to a solution.

But you thought hacking was bad, and tinkering was a waste of time.  You may be thinking that your intuition is unreliable, and all that counts is concrete deliverables.

I was in a meeting with a customer and my engineering manager.  I presented a set of possible future features that we could deploy.  After the meeting was over, my engineer was visibly upset.  He said to me, “You presented three features that I am not sure we can do!” My response was, “Let’s see how the customer responds.”

But how does this fit with intuition, tinkering and hacking?

Use your intuition and develop an idea

Intuition is a way to inform one’s creativity before engaging in process.  Intuitive ideas can come to you when you immerse yourself in something so much that you feel yourself gravitating in a direction.  Eliminate constraints that may impact a direction.  Share your new ideas with others.

Maybe suggest that cost is not an issue.  Or look beyond what is happening currently in the market.  Ask hypothetical questions and assume that even the seemingly impossible might be possible.  What if it were possible?  What would you do or try?

Start tinkering

Tinkering is a way to make your idea tangible.  Tinkering is how we begin to answer fundamental questions about how a thing might work.

Moreover, tinkering is an incredibly low-friction way to learn by making mistakes and finding problems, and then finding solutions to those problems.

Create a drawing or a storyboard.  Try different stories out.  Roleplay being the customer or the seller.  Use improv or comedy to simulate the selling process.

If you are creating a product, this is where 3D printing can help out.  Create some models and let people interface with them.  When your testers have a suggested change, make the modification and try again.

Also, consider discussing different price levels and distribution strategies.

Leverage what others have done

Despite its negative connotation, a hack can be a quick way to produce what is needed, although not always at the quality you might want.

Take your tinkering and create something that works.  In writing, this is often a first draft.  Website creators may create a first version of the entire site and then finish it in pieces.

Rather than a full requirements document, you can create some conceptual hacks.  Make something tangible and build something that works well enough, if not perfectly.

Think about self-driving cars.  They work, but not in all situations.

The next part of hacking is engaging your community.  Offer an opportunity for others to work on your concept.  Make your prototype available and let some of your collaborators try to improve it.  Classic open-source collaboration successes include Linux and WordPress.

But collaboration does not have to be open source.  Your customers and suppliers are great resources for collaboration.  Why?  Because they have a vested interest in your success.

You now have a solution that can be marketed.  Ask these questions: What problem does it solve? How does it solve the problem and what makes it different?”

Consider what you have learned from your intuition, tinkering and hacking. You may have some solutions you were not sure were possible!

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.
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