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« Cell phone cameras repel UFOs | Main | Your alphabet »

Edgecraft instead of brainstorming

One of the challenges of brainstorming a new idea is that there's too much freedom. With too many possibilities, we can seize up, unable to think of much of anything.

In established organizations, this is particularly difficult, because the first thing the lizard brain says to you is, “don't say that, because if they like it, you're going to be the one who has to build it.”

Instead, consider the notion of edgecraft:

1. Find an edge… a free prize that has been shown to make a product or service remarkable.
2. Go all the way to that edge—as far from the center as the consumers you are trying to reach dare you to go.

You must go all the way to the edge… accepting compromise doesn’t make sense. Running a restaurant where the free prize is your slightly attractive waitstaff won’t work--they’ve got to be supermodels or weightlifters or identical twins. You only create a free prize when you go all the way to the edge and create something remarkable.

The cheapest, easiest, best designed, funniest, most expensive, most productive, most respected, cleanest, loudest...

Before you begin to do edgecraft, you must accept the fact that the edges of the problem aren’t always obvious. Because the edge you’re seeking is not the primary reason for being, you’ve got to see it out of the corner of your eye. It’s not always clear exactly what would make your product or service significantly more remarkable, until you embrace the fact that the problem you’re trying to solve isn’t the problem you think you have. It's also quite possible that your edge will merely be stupid, not effective.

Sometimes you don’t discover the problem you’re solving until after you’ve solved it--it’s not always a top-down process. Someone creates something weird or neat or quirky or fun and the marketplace embraces it. You don’t often create a more popular restaurant by serving better food. You can do it by serving remarkable food, or having a remarkable location or a remarkably famous chef. You don’t often build a better car by building a faster car. You do it by building the most beautiful car, or the least polluting car, or the biggest car. At least for a while.

Instead of slogging your way through incremental improvements in the core element of your offering, then, the edgecrafter seeks out another element and pushes it so far it becomes remarkable.

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