Pamela loved PEZ candy and collecting PEZ dispensers. One night while having dinner with her boyfriend, she shared her frustration. She told him it was very hard to find other PEZ collectors in San Francisco to trade with. Her boyfriend, Pierre Omidyar suggested using the internet to find trading partners.
Pierre understood Pamela’s unmet need and how important it was to her. He was a software programmer, so he was able to post Pamela’s PEZ dispensers on his personal site. He called the page Auction Web letting people list their items for auction. To his amazement, the site attracted so many buyers and sellers that he soon had to set up a separate site devoted to auctions, which he dubbed eBay.
To understand if your dream, big idea or breakthrough innovation is a good idea, start with the Beneficiary Insight into their unmet needs. Pierre knew Pamela real well. He understood her passion for PEZ dispensers and believed addressing her unmet needs would make her real happy. Pierre and Pamela eventually married and are now billionaires from the success of eBay. They now discuss the unmet needs of the less fortunate and how their philanthropic Omidyar Network can help.
We may not be able to get to know the beneficiary(s) of our ideas the way Pierre did with Pamela. We can be surprised by those close to us and people we thought we knew. To determine whether it is a good idea, Insight can come from understanding the unmet needs and impact a solution may have upon the beneficiary(s):
- Problem and/or UnMet Needs – What is it? What are the frustrations? Why does it exist?
- Beneficiary Viewpoint – What do beneficiaries say about their unmet needs?
- Conceptual solution – What is it? Do beneficiaries think it will address their unmet needs?
- Competing solutions – Other options beneficiaries’ have to address their unmet needs?
- Awareness – How will beneficiaries become aware of this solution?
- Conversion – What will the beneficiary have to change it order to use this solution?
- Cost/Benefits – What are the costs and benefits of the solution? Is it worth it?
- Prosperity Impact – Impact to the beneficiaries’ time, convenience, comfort, choice, etc.
Insight into whether your dream, big idea or breakthrough innovation is a good idea requires insight into:
- Beneficiary Insight – people who benefit from the idea
- Aspirer Insight – you or the people pursuing the idea
- Viability Insight – communication, operational and solution components of the idea
- Enablement Insight – the process to make the idea a reality
If the Beneficiary Insight is not compelling, it makes no sense to engage in Aspirer, Viability and Enablement Insight. While listening to your frustrated girlfriend or boyfriend may not make you a billionaire like Pierre Omidyar, you will likely be appreciated. It also may provide you valuable insight that could inspire you to try to make almost anything happen.