ONE OF THE simplest techniques for better brainstorming is called “bug listing”. In a nutshell, you start by listing the things that bother you. In a 2nd phase you search for better alternatives. Bug listing works because it and allows for a cathartic release of dissent which can be considered “negative” in some workplaces. However, much product and service innovation comes from the systematic improvement of problems. James Dyson got frustrated that his Hoover “did not suck” etc. That was not a bad few minutes of grumbling … having made his fortune from it … Aldi has just stolen a march on Tesco et al by improving the check out speed simply by studying customer behaviour and designing a system that minimises dead time. It is a true wonder to see customers allowing others to jump the queue at Aldi, since the system is so efficient that queuing no longer has any meaning.
Getting fed up with your hoover could lead to major breakthroughs …
To get you started, here’s some of my favourite bug bears, just crying out for someone to cash in by making the product or service better:
Packaging that is so “safe” that you run the risk of killing yourself trying to open it with sharp knives. Especially children’s toys, which require about 30 minutes with a machete to get the item out. Toothpaste tubes that are so “tamper proof” that older people cannot open them is another good example of the world of unintended consequences.
Ludicrous levels of password security for casual online applications where no money or other important information is to be stored.
Tetrapak ring pull systems that “spray orange juice” at you whilst trying to open them, giving rise to the well-known condition of “orangophobia” – also applies to cranberry juice, milk etc.
Pointless bureaucracy in local Government services that places further distance between the customer and the service, costing people time and energy.
My Toyota Prius Sat Nav, which is significantly worse than the last version and which will cause me to switch back to BMW next time due to Akio Toyoda’s denial that a problem exists.
Flat pack furniture assembly instructions that bear no relation to the item you intend to assemble.
HM Revenue and Customs – pretty much everything they do, for example sending me duplicate letters telling me I need not do anything and ludicrously inefficient border control services that make us look like the laughing stock of Europe.
Shower heads that spray in random directions.
Insurance policies that are written in a ‘foreign language’, so as to hide the truth.
Phone calls from people who insist that I had PPI insurance when I didn’t. Or calls telling me I owned a Toyota Nimbus 2000 washing machine when there is no such thing. (My fault in this case, as someone phoned to ask me the make of my washing machine and I had been watching Harry Potter at the time – now it is on every database in the world!!)