Chapter 4
Idea Generation
In Chapter 3 we learned about finding and quantifying new opportunities and
the understanding of various customer requirements. We learned that customer
satisfaction depended on certain must-have requirements, one-dimensional
requirements, and attractive requirements. We also learned how each of these
requirements contributes to customer satisfaction. In Chapter 3, we introduced a
new tool called the product fulfillment map, which utilizes all of the customer
touch points with the various categories of product fulfillment targets. We
learned how this tool can be used to test current and proposed strategies and,
in some cases, can unlock new opportunities by the application of the tool.
We also learned about a method to quantify market opportunities. We
defined a scale for importance and satisfaction with respect to offerings and
how to calculate the opportunity based on the scores of importance and sat-
isfaction. Finally, we defined a method to categorize the opportunities based
on their calculation and defined three potential markets. The first was the
overserved market, the second was the adequately served market, and the
third was the underserved market.
In this chapter, the topic of idea generation will take any company from
where it is to where it could be. Two perspectives will be discussed regard-
ing idea generation. The first is the internal industry perspective. This will
take an approach that is in tune with your industry. The internal perspec-
tive of idea generation will help you to create new ideas that will fill gaps
according to those problems and solutions familiar with your current indus-
try. The second alternative will take the form of an external industry per-
spective. This perspective will unlock new offerings based on gathering new
ideas from external frames of reference, such as a different industry.
44 ◾  The Innovative Lean Enterprise
Internal Perspective Techniques
We begin by looking at some of the most common ways to generate new
ideas, beginning with the internal perspective approach. This approach deals
with the industry’s current customers and the current problems these custom-
ers are solving. There are many techniques to gather feedback from custom-
ers, lost customers, and competitor customers that ultimately lead to new
ideas. These new ideas fuel product changes, new product concepts, and
new services. We begin by discussing various voice of the customer (VOC)
The understanding of a target market allows one to choose certain VOC
methods that will provide customer insight. Target customers can be a set of
people who represent some sort of common need or want. Another exam-
ple of target customers is a group of people or customer group that shares a
common problem, for example, men in the age range of 45 to 60 looking for
products to solve the problem of gray hair. It is desirable to choose a set of
target customers of adequate size, allowing for high levels of sales. In later
chapters, we will discuss various forms of target customers so that the larg-
est possible group can be defined and targeted.
VOC techniques will allow the acquisition of quantitative data, qualitative
data, or a combination of both. Some techniques are more costly and time-
consuming than others. Special consideration should be taken as to which
method is best for you.
The use of qualitative data will be subjective. For example, you may ask
an individual to rate a product’s performance. The individual may provide
you with feedback that the product’s performance is inferior. How does one
interpret such a response? Do you deem the product as inadequate, or do
you look for more clarifying feedback? In any case, you must always get to
the root cause of the feedback. For example, you may realize that the par-
ticipant was not using the product properly, and that resulted in an unfair
rating of the product. Qualitative data mining requires that participants
properly understand the question in view of the facilitator. If the product is
available, errors can be reduced by having the participant demonstrate the
use of the product. This technique can ensure that data received will be
relatively accurate.
Quantitative data and analysis allow aspects of the product to be ranked
using a numerical scale. As defined in Chapter 3, obtaining a numerical value
can provide a measurable method of evaluation. This can substantially aid in
measurable decisions. As in qualitative analysis, quantitative analysis must also

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