Thursday, April 07, 2005

'X-versions' for development of idea germs

The X-versions approach can develop, evolve and suggest alternative applications for existing idea germs.

There are four stages to using this approach.

With the following Global Ideas Bank idea as an example:

Lottery entry slips - tick box for 10% of winnings to charity

Stage 1

I will pretend there is a dictionary entry for the word and that the dictionary compilers have invented a word to describe the action of the idea. Thus:

10%ing: when a lottery has a tickbox indicating that the player agrees to ten percent of winnings being donated to charity

This is the IDEA.

Stage 2

I will state the following directive:

Creat an X-version of the IDEA

Stage 3

I will create the X-word. That is, I will create some short words that, as adjectives, will describe/modify the version of the idea. I create the X-words by listing the following pangram:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dogs

and I will pick two letters at random and consider what words are triggered by these two letters. I aim to form words of just two or three letters (although if I cannot do this then I will try to form the shortest word possible).


C and T could trigger: cut, cat, cot

I choose 'cut'.

Stage 4

I will restate the directive, with the random word replacing the 'X'. Thus:

Create a cut-version of the IDEA

and I consider what variations are suggested by the directive.

Cut-version to me suggests that the player could choose the percentage that would be donated to charity instead of automatically agreeing to ten percent. Expressed as an idea:

Lottery players can choose a percentage of winnings that will be donated to charity.

More examples

I generated the following random words: final, sync, bit, chip, spot, do, age, act, chq and sad which led to these variations of the idea germ:

Final-version = the '10 percent to charity' idea would be done on one lottery draw only per year - perhaps at the end of the year or Christmas. In buying the ticket the player would automatically agree to the arrangement.

Sync-version = all the world's lotteries would carry out the tickbox idea to see the total that could be raised (perhaps this could be a once-per-year event).

Bit-version = the idea would only be implented online, for online purchasers of lottery tickets.

Chip-version = players of casino fruit machines (particularly fruit machines with substantial jackpots) could agree that ten percent of jackpot winnings would go to charity. (Perhaps there would be a special button on the fruit machines that is pressed to indicate the agreement.)

Spot-version = the lottery player 'spots' a cause and indicates on the lottery slip that the ten percent should go to that specific cause.

Do-version = a group of people could agree to defintely do (implement) the idea of their own initiative. The lottery organiser's website could have a place where players can register their names and agree that a percentage of winnings goes to charity.

Age-version = the lottery player's agreement on 'ten percent to charity' would 'last an age'. That is, they would register once and the agreement would stand for life.

Act-version = the big musicals could, in their first week, put a ten percent premium on ticket sales. Punters would be informed of this arrangement.

Chq-version = cheques could have a tickbox where the account holder agrees that ten percent (or perhaps a set amount of £1) of a transaction would be given to charity.

Sad-version = young people could agree to ten percent of their 'wealth' being donated to charity on the (unlikely) event of their death.

Further notes:

Following the precept that 'quantity leads to quality' it can be worth expressing the directive with the plural of 'versions'. Thus:

Create X-versions of the idea

This is also a reminder to 'look beyond the first idea'.

Sometimes I will adapt the dictionary definition to a broader concept level.


10%ing = when something has a tickbox agreeing to ten percent to charity


10%ing = when ten percent of a transaction goes to charity.

This helps to open up the idea germ to other possibilities.

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