product ideation is dysfunctional

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2024-02-12 15:30:05

Ideation in product management is a broken tool that does not “create ideas”, as it professes to do. In this post I describe what’s wrong with garbage-ideation and how we can better achieve what “ideation” claims to provide.

n. The faculty or capacity of the mind for forming ideas; the exercise of this capacity; the act of the mind by which objects of sense are apprehended and retained as objects of thought.

Not all ideas are equal. It’s unreasonable to expect that everyone’s ideas are of equal quality. It’s very easy to have an opinion on a subject, opinions are cheap. But it’s hard to have a good opinion. Because it’s hard to have a good opinion, your ideation meeting will by-and-large have a greater proportion of bad opinions in it than good ones. With a concentration of bad opinions, we will create a concentration of bad ideas. These drown out the fewer good ideas.

Ideas come from the subconscious, not conscious brain. The phrase “shower thoughts” describes this exactly. It’s the moments of quiet reflection that create good ideas. For good ideas, you need domain experts – people who deeply understand a problem space – with the time to reflect on the problem. This quiet reflection process that allows your subconscious brain’s thoughts to permeate into your conscious brain does not happen in a meeting full of stakeholders (with bad opinions).

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