I was sitting down with a high-level executive at one of the major luggage companies a few years ago. He asked me how Intergalactic Thinking might work on product design in his company. I asked him to go to the "farming" galaxy and name five things that had something to do with a farm. He named "pig," "fence," "tractor," "hoe," and "silo." Since I knew the routine, as he said each word I simultaneously let the concepts push me in different places relative to luggage design. I kept the thought process to myself.
"Tractor"? How about big wheels on the back, small wheels on the front of really large bags? Is that a good idea? I don't know. Then how about "pig"? okay, maybe a corkscrew type of handle. That's stupid. ("Hey, don't judge!") Let's try "silo." A thought immediately popped into my mind. (Of course, all this happened in about five seconds. I do this kind of thinking all the time. It's second nature. See page 135.)
"That's it! Silos are used to store grains for the winter, so the livestock doesn't starve, right?" He looked at me strangely. "Do you make big boxes for off-season storage of clothing?" I asked. "Why, no we don't," was the luggage executive's reply. "Then I think you should consider getting into that business. People probably buy some no-name boxes for off-season clothes storage. Put your highly recognized name on that box, and it has instant brand equity, credibility, and added value."
The executive thought about it. He had the tooling, materials, suppliers, and distribution network — everything it takes to be in the offseason storage-container business. But he hadn't had the idea until we went looking in a foreign galaxy.
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