Pimp My Pup and Other Important Concepts

My daughter’s “Invention Convention” is this week.  Her assignment – to conceptualize an invention, explain how it might work, and build a prototype.  Being  an inventor myself, I was really excited to watch how her mind works.  She invented the “Paw Wash.”  I encouraged her to name it “Pimp My Pup” and then had to explain to her what a pimp was.  She told me that “Pimp My Pup” was inappropriate.  What could I say to that?  Fast-forwarding to the point I’m trying to make, she (without any input from me) outlined the key elements in successfully developing a product or service.

  1. “A Clean Dog is a Happy Dog” – Who doesn’t want man’s best friend to be happy?  Intuitively she connected with pet owners.  She put forth a solid, concise call to action. Reading between the lines, she said to would-be consumers of the Paw Wash, “If you do not keep your pet clean, it will not be happy and you will not be a responsible pet owner.”  She was able to put herself inside the mind of the consumer, anticipate the need, and draw upon the emotion that often guides our decision-making.
  2. “Before and After” – On the left side of her display, entitled, “Before,” is a photo of a dirty, muddy, and shivering little pooch.  The photo on the right highlights a bright white, poofy fur-ball whose caption is “After.” The before-and-after illustration sets the stage for a clearly defined representation of what the invention is intended to accomplish.  Simply put, it sets a clear, unambiguous standard for success.  Being able to define the meaning of success early on in a project sends a clear message to our team – “This is where we are going. This is our VISION.”
  3. The Process.  In order to create the value outlined in our vision and deliver the promised results, we must have a plan, or process, on how to get there.  My 12 year old protégé created the plan on how to go from “dirty dog with a guilt-ridden owner” to “a happy dog and self-assured owner.” That plan was nothing more than a step-by-step process that any reasonable, competent user could understand and follow.  Having a clearly lit path is mission critical to flawless execution.

Whether the goal is to engineer a new product or re-engineer a new process, certain elements must be in place to ensure a successful implementation.  1) Understand what the customer really wants.  2) Define meaningful success.  3) Execute a plan that will deliver the desired results.  Extracting these simple lessons from a pseudo-science project reminds me why I love what I do and why I am such a such a hit at parties.

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