How to Boost Your Creativity and Product Thinking Part 1

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1 Metaphors – the “Magic Wand” of storytelling (see what I did there?)

In this short series I will go through some exercises and experiments that can boost creativity and help you “tell the story” as a product manager, entrepreneur or funder.

I worked in the theater when I was younger and it has been very valuable experience as I have worked in New Product Development.  I often see articles about boosting creativity.  Here is what I do:

Those who have done Enterprise software will cringe when I remind them of the old saw “we want to build a Toyota, not a Cadillac”.  Though overused, and out of date, it is a useful exercise for your creativity and your ability to communicate complex technology. My typical metaphor is Theater.  As follows:

  • The new product development process is like the new play development process
  • Actors, Directors, Producers and Lighting Techs all have their own culture, just as Marketing Dev, Operations, Testing and Engineering do in a startup.
  • Managing Divas in the theater is similar (and as necessary) in software

I could go on!

How to do this:

Break a process you know well, or have experienced recently, into parts and assemble them according to your product ambitions.  Ex: How is buying Oreos the same or different from buying a refrigerator, or theater tickets? Why? Why Not? What parts of my observations can I use when I think about products?

When you read the business news or see new products, think about the audience for that company or product?  What are their needs, why are they different. Does that tell you anything about your customers?

Think of an experience with a company or product that you love.  Break down what worked, what you would like more of.  Can you apply any of it to your company?

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