Of Drones, Creativity, and Ideas


There has been a lot of talk about drones in the media. For a long time, it seemed to be all negative press. Drones were, for the vast majority of the part, exclusively linked to controversial US military operations in Pakistan, sometimes with supposed success, but many times with public outcry for their tragic humanitarian side-effects.

It was only towards the end of 2013 did the mainstream public see a friendlier alternative to the use of drones. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, went on the air to claim that the world’s largest online retailer is looking into using drones for drop-shipping commercial deliveries. PR stunt or not, the news was enough to cause an internet frenzy. Was it technologically feasible? What about regulations? And privacy? And safety? How heavy can the packages be? And what kind of futuristic age are we living in, anyway? And then, more recently, Facebook was reported to be acquiring a drone maker in order to try to provide developing communities internet connectivity.

In my last blog-post I talked about the need to produce LOTS of ideas in order to build towards breakthroughs. In this post, I will show you one technique that can help you come up with ideas about practically anything. For demonstration purposes, I will use them in the context of drones. Now, remember, the ideas that are generated will probably not amount to much by themselves. Rather, they should provide you the building blocks towards more compelling ideas.

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The Trouble with Ideas

A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a panel of startup owners in a workshop titled ‘Fail Fast, Learn Often’. The audience was a group of undergraduate students and eager/curious prospective entrepreneurs who, for probably the first time in their schooling lives, were being encouraged to fail (but not really). When it was time to turn to the crowd and field their comments and questions, these are the types of statements I started to hear.

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Err on the Side of Delight

We live in a customer-centric world.

More increasingly than ever, if your customers aren’t pleased, your business will suffer. In fact, the problem is worse than that.

These days, customers expect to be almost instantly pleased. If they are not, you run the risk of being, at best, ignored and, at worst, dead.

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How to Prioritize for Product Development

One of the biggest challenges that Product Managers face these days is that of prioritizing tasks. In ever rapidly changing markets, it becomes vital for product managers and their teams to work on the right things at the right time.

A commonly stated framework in product development that is used to help make some sense of task priorities is Stephen Covey’s famous Urgent vs Important Matrix (Figure 1). The idea is simple enough: break up all your given tasks and feature requests into the four shown buckets. And then double-down on those which fall into the Important tasks first.

This framework helps in giving some general guidance, but I want to take it a step further. In this post, I want to share with you an alteration to the framework. I opted to use terms that are commonly used in today’s product development and management practices, particularly pertaining (though not exclusively) to tech startups.

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