Do you challenge yourself and the level of work that you produce to refine your product development skills?
Let’s talk about concept development writing for a moment. An integral piece to product development.
I was fortunate to have one particular employer during my career (a boss), that encouraged me to look more outside the box, than within the box, when developing concepts for products.
Outside the box, innovation, forward thinking, thought leader - they’re all clichés. Yet, they’re also the terms we use to get out of ourselves and our normal approach to doing things in order to better refine and solidify our skill sets.
I’ll never forget the incident that pushed me out of my usual approach to concept development, the moment that made me stop and take a closer, more critical look at my work. After submitting a skin care concept to my boss, it was returned with massive comments all over the ideas I worked so hard to develop! I recall looking at the paper, and saying “wow” out loud ! I was surprised. I really thought that I had turned over a pretty good concept. In that moment, I was immediately transported back to the days of being corrected by my elementary school English teacher.
What did I do? I said - “I’ll do it again." I pushed past my hurt pride and began an intense revision process. And then, the “aha!” moment I was hoping for...I understood that the product needed to have “life." I was very good at technical writing, but this needed more...it needed to be told from a deeper or inner place that was relational to the consumer. It needed a romantic story that captured people’s attention and opened up their senses to want to explore the product more! I began to dig deeper, carefully selecting words that were emotionally connected, while at the same time incorporating high-end technology in simple terms.
While the push to continuously revise concepts was a challenge for me at first, I continued to listen to my boss’s feedback and to work on my skills. I would rewrite concepts over and over, read them forwards, backwards, share them with coworkers for feedback and change sentences around until they clicked and had the magic that gave them life.
This sincere mentoring of my boss — and my reaching out for constructive criticism—paid off a few years later as I took on a new role for a brand that allowed me to proactively develop products for the skin care, color, and fragrance categories. It’s a rare opportunity in the beauty industry to be given a role to develop cross-category. Had I not stuck with pushing through the learning curves—risking being wrong, and using constructive criticism to my benefit —my creative growth would have been stunted.
What's your biggest challenge during concept development?
a) using romantic language to bring the product to life
b) writing about high-end technology in a consumer-friendly way
c) asking for and using constructive criticism to make your concept stronger
Want to challenge your work? Ask for feedback from team members that you normally would not approach to critique it. See what new ideas you can develop from taking a risk and challenging yourself.
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