Which conflict is behind your invention?


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Ideas with a conflict behind?

Last Thursday I had a discussion with an inventor. Since several month he tried to launch his idea without success. He was invited to present his Idea in front of designer teams and engineers of many enterprises. However, at the end the managers speeded him to his future way by a friendly back-slap an the words, “..all the best for your future and successful marketing of your idea …”. The inventor found this experience very confusing. He could not understand the attitudes of the development managers. He felt his idea being ignored and falling on deaf ears.

Conflicts bringing ideas to market

In our joint conversation the fact that his idea was useful on the one hand, and on the other hand a conflict, became clear to him. His idea implied a mixture between a conflict of goals and conflict of interests. It became obvious that the goals of the inventor didn’t align to the goals and interests of the manufacturer. Conflicts of goals often block the successful marketing of ideas.

Example for a conflict behind an idea

Fire extinguishing systems for cars are available on the marked in many variations. At the beginning those systems mainly had been used for racing cars. Later in time those as well were used and implemented in historical cars.  In both cases, the value of the fire extinguishing systems was to protect the sponsors investments into the expensive cars. The drivers safety was not in the focus at the point in time as those systems had been developed. This side effect automatically was available if this system was used because the driver manually triggered the fire protection system. As well on the racing track he got external help to exit from a burning car. Drivers from historical cars seldom get into an accident and if the car catches on fire, the driver easily can leave the car early. With this the damage was kept within limits because the driver often is the owner of the vehicle.

When does the idea-conflict show up?

Statistically on German roads in 2014 about 40000 vehicles caught on fire. With nowadays cars much higher speeds can be driven and rear end collisions with multiple cars involved can be seen every day. In heavy collisions passengers often get tuck inside the car. In many cases it is impossible for them to leave the car without external help. Sometimes fuel is leaking out and catches on fire because it’s dripping onto hot parts of the engine. In such cases the driver having a fire extinguishing system built into his car can make a very lucky experience. With this knowledge it is obvious that car manufactures provide a standard and install fire extinguishing systems into every new car. But – there are no such fire extinguishing systems in cars, there is no such a standard. The car producers not even provide a cheap small manual fire-extinguisher.

Which conflict shows up with the idea?

Using Alex Osterwalder’s Design-Thinking approach, the inventor interviewed car owners. With the results he was able to experience the potential conflicts himself. Most of the car owners would feel uncomfortable if there would be a fire extinguishing system in each new car as a standard. They ey implied that such a car would be not very safe. The conflict for the car manufacturer in this example is a shrinking business by selling less cars but his first goal is to sell more cars. The goal of the inventor, to make a car more safe, does not well align with the car manufacturer to sell more cars. This is called a goal-incoherence. The goal of the inventor does not support the goal of the car manufacturer. Because of this conflict the idea, selling automated fire extinguishing systems to car manufacturers, will fail. This does not mean the idea, implementing automated fire extinguishing systems into vehicles, should be dropped in general.

How to solve this goal-conflict?

If you want to quickly reach your goal, then go a detour.″ – Zen wisdom

To start the detour ask yourself about the interest of the potential clients for your idea. A lot of industry sectors automatic fire extinguishing systems are needed to provide more safety. Such systems are standard in aircraft’s as an example. No Airline would buy a plane without automated fire extinguishing system built into the turbines. It makes sense to adjust the idea to target onto another group of potential buyers. With this chances for successful marketing the idea are growing. In the Design-Thinking the FIT-Process is used to make those adjustments as a base to develop more successful marketing-strategies.

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