peering into the spaces in-between

In the Intellectual Property space, we have a service that exists solely to generate product ideas that may never see the light of day. This is called “Targeted IP Generation.” These ideas need to be designed from the ground up to not be currently developable in the current environment or by the specific company.

This is generating ideas specific to patenting. These are used to build out a patent portfolio that can be licensed later, used in defense, or possibly used for a future product.

These ideas are designed not for today but tomorrow, when you may actually build them. Or maybe your competitors will build them.

Many of these ideas may sound dumb today, but there is no reason why they cannot be treasured in the future. For example, for one of my clients, I envisioned a device that emits different scents based on the state of a customer’s financial portfolio. If your portfolio was down, it might emit a “vinegar” smell or a “vanilla” smell for one that was up.

Some areas are tough to ideate because there are many other types of products or patents in that space already. For example, let’s say that you are a bank. Banks are a specific set of things that they can do, mostly involving money. Most of everything involving the transfer of money, the lending of money, the payment of money, the receipt of money, etc. – all of the services a bank can offer are pretty well covered.

So what if you wanted to build new products in the banking space? Well, you might think that it would be very hard, seeing that they are so many banks and financial services in the market, and so many products that these companies offer, you probably think that it’s dead space to ideate in. That space is “spent” – that there is no way to do anything new and different.

But you would be wrong.

In the patent world, we have a concept called “white space.” The “idea between the ideas” Think of it like in-fill housing – like putting up a new building in that space or park which no one uses. This is what we look for when expanding a patent portfolio. But this concept can also be used in product design – especially in busy, already built out spaces.

As I mentioned in my previous post on constraints, determining the whitespace to play is the first step. Once you’ve solved that, you can develop tons of interesting, massively valuable ideas in the “white space” – things that no one has thought of before. And it’s really not that difficult once your brain has entered the “white space.”

The trick is to make sure that those ideas map to the customer’s desire – which we’ve determined in the “observer/discuss/immerse” stages of the HAIA. In some cases, this will cause you to revise your companies’ mission to encompass this new vision. Maybe you will no longer be a “financial services” firm, but a “personal services” firm. You may need to redefine your entire innovation group or company to live in the “white space.”