Have you got an idea for a business or product that you think will Wow! everyone? Are you worried that you will put a lot of time and money into your idea and it will flop? Dr. Gary Rhoads, co-author of Boom Start: Super Laws of Successful Entrepreneurs, uses a modified version of Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats to test and shape ideas and concepts.
The process is fairly simple: gather together a focus group of 6 – 14 people (typically 10 who you believe are your ideal client). You will need a Group Moderator who has some skills in facilitating group discussion – not a member of the focus group and not you. The Group Moderator should make this a fun experience by throwing out candies, letting them wear the colored hats, encouraging sharing of all ideas, and using each member’s name.
If you can afford it, purchase the six different colored hats for each focus group member and set them out on the table in front of each person. Can’t afford the hats? Then six sheets of colored paper will work just as well.
The Group Moderator leads the focus group through the process by having them put on the colored hats each time and answer the questions in the following order:
White Hat – Facts:
Owner (you) shares only the facts and allows the group to ask questions. After the owner leaves, the Moderator then asks the focus group, “Tell me what you just learned.”
Red Hat – Emotions:
Moderator states, “On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is Wow! Fantastic and 1 is Stinko, rate this product.” (Note: you need to have an average of 7.5 to be commercially viable. Less than 7.5 means “not quite yet”. It could also mean that you don’t have the ideal client group. If the idea has a 6.0 average, the idea could be tweaked.)
Black Hat – Negative Judgment:
Moderator asks, “What don’t you like?” Moderator writes down all the comments.
Yellow Hat – Positive Judgment:
Moderator requests, “Think of what would be positive.” Again writes down all the comments.
Green Hat – Alterations & Creativity:
Moderator requests, “Break into groups and bring back how this could be the number 1 product.” Encourages: “You are doing so well; I want you to imagine I was going to send you to Disneyland for the best ideas.”
Blue Hat – Thinking About the Process:
Moderator asks, “What would you summarize for the CEO?” Video tape this feedback. If the focus group has recommended a number of changes, the Moderator could request that they use the scale of 1 – 10 to rate the revised idea.
With the results from the focus group, you can now tweak the idea if it didn’t achieve a score of 7.5 or better, you could try another focus group (hoping to find your ideal client group), or you could abandon the idea and put your time and money into seeking out an idea that has the Wow! Factor.
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