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  • 1.  Exercise for coming up with new product/service idea

    Posted 01-06-2022 11:52
    Hi all.  I am trying to find a good method/exercise where I can spend about a half hour with a class and have the students come up with some idea for a new product or service that solves a problem. The exercise should accomplish the following goals, if possible.

    The problem/solution should be specific to the class ---- E.g., nursing if I talking to a nursing class, education if talking to an education class, etc.

    The exercise should result in a concrete deliverable by the end of the half hour session.

    Ideally each student or a very small group of students could come with their own ideas, as opposed to a large group or the whole class collectively coming with one or more ideas.

    The students idea would just be a starting point, so does not need to be well developed.  For example, the students don't need to do an in depth search of whether it already exists.

    Any thoughts?  Thanks in advance!

    Mark Simon
    University of Michigan - Flint
    Flint MI
    (810) 237-6684

  • 2.  RE: Exercise for coming up with new product/service idea

    Posted 01-07-2022 10:36

    I have found Clay Christensen' "job-to-be-done" (JTBD) framework of thinking about opportunities and unmet needs amongst users (in any industry or product category) to be a good starting point for students. It is simple and effective since it focuses attention on actual needs instead of customer demographics. Almost invariably, articulating the JTBD triggers the ideation for specific products/ services.

    Here is an HBR article on this framework:

    This framework also works well as a kind of prep work for the value proposition part of the business model canvas in case that's part of the curriculum design.


    Chetan Chawla
    Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship
    School of Business and Entrepreneurship
    North Central College
    30 North Brainard Street
    Naperville, IL 60540

  • 3.  RE: Exercise for coming up with new product/service idea

    Posted 01-07-2022 14:08
    Hi Mark,
    We have a number of exercises posted on the EIX website. Maybe one of them will work.


    Dan Forbes

    Daniel Forbes
    U of Minnesota, Carlson School
    Minneapolis MN
    (612) 625-2989

  • 4.  RE: Exercise for coming up with new product/service idea

    Posted 01-08-2022 09:31
    Hi Mark,

    My technique for a quick 30-minute brainstorming exercise like this is fairly simple, but it certainly gets the students thinking creatively.

    On the first day of my entrepreneurship class, every semester, I ask students to upload short one-paragraph descriptions of 5 trends (1 trend per paragraph).  They have to search for them online, via google and other news sites.  I compile those trends into a document, which I call a "Trends Bank"; and I number the trends (randomly).  So, if there are 15 students in class, the Trends Bank has 75 trends (#1 through #75).

    On the second day of class, students form small groups of 3-4 students.  I then ask each student to choose 3 numbers randomly from #1-#75, and pass those three numbers to the person to their left.  Then I hand out the Trends Bank.  Each person must take the 3 trends they were given, and form a business idea out of it.  They have 7-10 minutes to generate an idea out of combining those trends.  After that individual brainstorming period, the students in a small group share their ideas with each other.  In 30 minutes, possible to squeeze two rounds instead of just one.  (Or you could have just one round for small groups, and then spend the rest of the 30 minutes asking each group to present their favorite idea (of the 3-4 generated).

    The students have a lot of fun with this exercise.  Combining two trends is really not that tough, but it's the third trend that often forces some novelty and uniqueness... You could do something similar, except requiring students to choose one trend from a subset of nursing/education/etc trends, so that it forces all students to follow the common theme.

    If you'd like a copy of my latest Trends Bank, just to see what it looks like, feel free to email me at chihmao dot hsieh at sunykorea dot ac dot kr.

    Cheers, -chihmao.

    Chih-mao Hsieh
    SUNY Korea

  • 5.  RE: Exercise for coming up with new product/service idea

    Posted 01-08-2022 09:31
    I use Peter Drucker's typology of sources of opportunity (with plenty of examples) to get students started. https://hbr.org/amp/2002/08/the-discipline-of-innovation

    Henrik Berglund
    Chalmers Univ. of Technology
    +46 708 128 138

  • 6.  RE: Exercise for coming up with new product/service idea

    Posted 01-09-2022 18:48

    Working with trends is good (mentioned earlier) - though, I often found students having too little knowledge about many of the sectors: this makes them come up with naive ideas. 

    I found referring to the classroom setting to work better: they have good 'customer insights' and can identify opportunities. Worked particularly well with online and hybrid teaching - technology did not work well and the opportunities were fast to spot. 

    Frank Siedlok
    University of Auckland