Idea Refinement

April 11, 2019

By Patrik Nilsson

Once an idea has been generated, the idea needs to be molded before it is assessed and implemented. Idea refinement can be carried out in many different ways. For this module, I found the article by Sukhov (2016) particularly beneficial. By breaking the idea into different elements, the innovators can refine each of the elements (situation, dissatisfaction, procedure, and resources) within an idea to make it more complete, sustainable, and easy to understand. The model presented by Sukhov (2016), in the previous seminar, in the future, should be offered at the introduction of the course to help students understand what an idea consists of. I believe that when innovators think about ideation, most individuals approach ideas from a solution perspective. In the previous module, I suggested that the problem element of an idea might be equally as important, if not more important, than the solution element. Dorst and Cross (2001) suggest a co-evolution of the problem and solution as a form of idea refinement, which reinforces my thoughts elaborated upon in the previous module.

In the restaurant industry, I believe that the idea refinement process seldom is systematic and elaborate. Many ideas are generated, refined, and assessed the very same day. In my experience, the refinement typically happens in short sessions and meetings with the employees of the establishment. Best-case scenario, everyone is able to speak their mind on both the problem and solution. In these short sessions, dissimilar viewpoints are given to shape the idea – from employees with different levels of experience and involvement – similar to the co-design aspect described by Trischler et al. (2018). In particular areas, knowledge and understanding about the topic are vital to refining specific ideas, for instance with regards to wine. In this case, as users with lower involvement tend to slow down the ideation process and not fully understand the ideas at hand, only professionals carry out the refinement. With ideas with less focus, for instance about more general things like the restaurant concept, refinements are instead encouraged by employees with different levels of experience and involvement.

What I find particular to the hospitality industry concerns continuous quality improvements. An idea can be refined in a short time and assessed the same day by the innovators, as well as the dining guests. Where the ideation requires experience and involvement, the feedback from lead users (for instance foodies) is particularly valuable. An idea might return to a meeting session for additional refinement upon feedback, which then further improves quality and efficiency.

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