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How to develop a concept in a clear and considered way

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By Sam Reid - 2nd Mar, 2021

This article is the second part of a series around how to simplify complicated thinking into a single-page view so that other people can easily understand you.

Background

Welcomes to the second instalment of our ThinkSprint canvas range - The Concept Canvas. Much like the preceding brief canvas, its purpose is to segment deep thinking into a set of clear buckets so that someone else can quickly get on your wavelength. This is important because our brains interpret things differently leading to misinterpretation, especially with new thinking that is not anchored to things we already understand. We adopted the popular Business Model Canvas and adapted it for our own needs and found clients really liked the format so we’d like to share it with you.

We created the Concept Canvas for two reasons

1. A method for harvesting lots of ideas and having a consistent way of comparing them.

2. A framework to help creative thinkers to tighten up their idea by asking some tough questions that provoke reflection.

 

 

The canvas works in three stages.

1. What I want to do: An explanation of your idea, how it works and the resources required to make it.

2. Gateway Q: A viability and honesty sense check e.g. Would I genuinely be interested in it if it wasn’t my idea?

3. Why it makes sense: A justification of your logic and a demonstration of what return on investment would look like.

 

Here are our tips for the type of detail you should put in each of the boxes

STAGE 1: WHAT I WANT TO DO

‘My idea’

If you can explain a complex thing in a small number of words it shows you really understand it; just like a good elevator pitch. That’s why we constrain this part to only 140 characters. I know a Tweet is now 280 but we’re old schoolers ;)

The problem in a tweet:  Show the person reading your idea that your interpretation of the problem or opportunity is sound.

The insight in a tweet: This is the universal truth that elegantly connects your idea to the challenge. A unique insight is key to an original outcome.

The solution in a tweet: If you understand the problem and you’ve quality insight as a springboard, this bit will come naturally. And keep the language ‘Ronseal’ so that your granny would get it.

‘How it works’ 

How do people find out about it: Working through all the channels a concept might exist in upfront is helpful later on since it lets you (or a production person) understand the resources that will be needed to execute it. Build it and they will come rarely exists so you need to bake in distribution from the off.

How do people interact with it:  This is a high-level user journey. Try to keep it to only the main steps as your journey will get a lot more complicated later on when you add details.

‘Resources’

By this point you should have a reasonable idea of where the concept will live and how people interact with it so you can think through all the people then needed to start making it. Depending on your experience you may want to get advice here e.g. Do I have the right skill sets? How long will each part require of someone? What is a typical day rate? You won’t need to get to a perfect budget, but at least you’ll have explored what reality looks like. If you are serious about getting this concept off the ground you need to show you’re serious about understanding what resources that will take.

 

STAGE 2: GATEWAY Q

‘Sense Check’

Time to ask some tough questions of your thinking and be honest with your answers. Aside from the obvious stress-tests of whether it's technically or financially feasible, the really big one is being able to say hand on heart, you’d care about this if it wasn’t your idea. Is it an ugly baby?

 

STAGE 3: WHY IT MAKES SENSE

‘Why it works’

By explaining to the reader why this is a well thought through concept you save them the effort of interrogating it themselves and missing important details.

The audience will like it because…: Go back to the persona in the brief and map the benefits back to their needs. The point is to show how you are connecting to what people want.

The business will like it because…: I’ve been in pitches where this part is forgotten then awkwardly post-rationalised. Save yourself the pain and show the people paying how your concept ties to their objectives. You will cover this in more detail in the ‘Return’ box too.

‘How you talk about it’

Concept title: It’s always good to have a working name. If it’s a fun and pithy one all the better as it helps stakeholders get attached.

The press release: This is a tried and tested approach. Future projecting what success would look like in the form of a press release gives the reader the context of what you’re aiming for. It can also stir excitement.

‘Return’

This is where the rubber hits the road - pinpoint where your concept creates value and how that value can be measured. You want the reader to land on this part completely clear on what you’re suggesting and then walking away sold on its potential and ready to commit.

 

Next up is our Pilot Canvas the essential 1-pager for executing a new concept in a low-risk way. 

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