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6 search engine steps for new product development


May 31, 2010
By Larry Kilham

Topics


larrykilhamthumbMay 31, 2010 – A good search engine,
such as Google, can make developing a new product or service much more
efficient and insightful. Often its use leads to serendipitous results for
first-time users trying to find solutions to new problems.  How do you know when to start creating with a
search engine and how to go about it?



It’s much
easier when you have an actual creative design challenge. It helps greatly to
have the motivation of getting useful information tied to a real goal.

What is the
optimum way to make use of Google’s comprehensiveness and speed? In addition to
following the basics of any well-designed search project, there are at least
six important steps.

Narrow the
search and find prior solutions

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This is the
time to engage your curiosity and surf all around in Google and other web
sources. Get a sense of the lay of the land. Which direction do you want to be
headed? Has somebody already developed the product or service you were seeking to
invent? If not, why not? Have some obstacles unforeseen by you been discovered
by others? Can you still envision a solution, not yet offered on the web, which
is worth pursuing? What are the key technical or design problems that need to
be overcome? Can your resources and ingenuity successfully address them?

Postulate a
design or system solution

From what
you have now learned from the web, can you make sketches of your imagined
creation? For example if it is a mechanical design, can you envision the placement
of motors, gears, shafts, controls and so on? If it’s electronic, can you draw
a block diagram and logic flow chart for which specific circuits, IC chips and
software can be dropped in later?

Look for
design elements on the web

Check the web
and other sources for suppliers and parts and ingredients for your creation.
Sometimes seeing different parts or ingredients than you originally had in mind
will cause you to improve your design. It never hurts to order some key parts
and start physical experimentation, if for no other reason than to further
focus your mind on the essence of the solution.

Design and
redesign

This is
also part of the relentless quest for full understanding of the process and
perfection in action. When new products or services are created interactively
with a search engine, iterate back and forth keeping in mind both the big
picture and the details. This is the dual focus between you and the computer
clouds for greatest creativity.

You can
tweak your design too much or too little. It is important to know when to stop
tweaking your invention. Most people tend to err on the side of premature
product introduction. In retrospect, most inventions would have been better to
not worry so much about being first to market and better to have worried about
reliable product performance.

Find other
people, companies and projects with similar interests with whom you can
communicate

It often
happens that you will have chance encounters in cyberspace as well as individual
people ferreted out on the web who may be of special interest to you such as
professors, writers, skilled tradesmen, software writers and the like. Of
course not all of your new acquaintances may turn out to be as friendly or
useful as they first appear–some may well turn out to be jealous or
competitive – but it’s best to get involved with other people at this point and
weed out the undesirable ones as you go along.

Organize
notes and source material

In the
past, note taking, indexing and filing consumed disproportionate amounts of
project time. While this essentially manual process will never be eliminated
completely, web services such as Google, plus similar information access
technology for use on data stored in your computer, make it easier to manage a
database.

By noting
search terms that work particularly responsively in a particular search engine,
in effect you have defined personal space in your search. By using a search
engine to find things in the impossibly large and growing database in a
personal computer, personal database is more responsive to queries and
hopefully, no data or insights are lost.

In addition
to gathering information, search engines can also channel the creative mind
into the unique imagination space that could not be found by simple daydreaming.
Seeing what potential suppliers of parts and services do, and seeing the
features of similar product designs, can give you new ideas to fine-tune your
focus. If this tack is not productive, give your mind free rein to wander
again. This is stepping back and searching anew for the way forward.

You should
not overlook using Google or other search engines and web resources to research
the early history of your business, product or service. This history notably
would include the pioneering big thinkers in the field. It can be very
revealing to see what they thought about the important issues. The original
thinkers in various areas were, by nature, very curious and often expressed
themselves in a frank and wondrous manner. While their naïveté in hindsight may
seem laughable, on the other hand they often spoke in straightforward terms
that paid no attention to offending colleagues or to political correctness.
They noticed things that might be worth reexamining.

Larry Kilham is a speaker and
consultant specializing in new product development for high tech companies. He
is the author of the forthcoming book, “MegaMinds: How to Create and Invent in
the Age of Google.”  Larry and his family
are successful inventors and entrepreneurs with many patents and awards. He has
a master’s degree from MIT and has founded three companies. To find out more
about Larry’s speaking and consulting, please contact him by email at lkilham@gmail.com or by phone at
505-310-7600.