On needs, wants, and nice-to-have’s

Last weekend I’ve had the chance to communicate the basics about this blog to the first class of Zollverein School MBAs who will be (hopefully ;-) contributing to this blog soon and share insights about recent projects they’ve been working on.

I was lucky to arrive a little bit earlier at the Zollverein Site and I’ve been impressed about the construction progress of the new Zollverein School of management & design building. I’m really looking forward to this summer when one of Europe’s most attractive school buildings will be opened to the public as well as hosting the Zollverein School itself. As you might have noticed I’m randomly “flickring” (maybe a new verb ;-) photos about things going on here as well as some impressive shots from the building itself. If you’re not familiar with “Flickr” yet, just click on any of the radomly changing images on the right.

While waiting for my time “on stage”, I’ve grabbed the end of the session where some of the MBA class of 2006 students presented their master thesis concepts to be completed later this summer. Without digging further into details about the topics itself today (some students will post about them soon) one thing became apparent: While from a broader perspective all ideas I’ve listened to are highly interesting some of them somehow lack a clear focus on what (my highly admired ;-) Dave Pollard called: “Know What Urgent Problem You’re Uniquely Solving”!

Dave’s blog on “Business Innovation” is always a good address when you are looking for “back to basics” advice and he usually illustrates his ideas with concise charts. Quoted from his blog the latest posting is about

… ’solutions’ that are really interesting, quite feasible, and well within their area of competency, but which fail to uniquely solve an urgent problem (in the eyes of whoever is paying for it).”

and David is classifying innovative ideas and market offerings as

“needs, wants, and nice-to-have’s.”.

While this classification first reads quite generic I think it really helps you to sort out if your concept is a) relevant and b) making the right assumptions. This does not necessarily mean that ideas and concepts (particularly in the academic context) always need to address needs first, but it helps to make yourself aware how to integrate your ideas in a say larger “value chain” of ideas!

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