This is the fun bit where wild ideas are thrown around in a quest to identify different concepts that will address the requirements. We call these sessions “brainstorming” and they tend to get rather loud and just a bit silly at times, as we tend to involve everyone in the design office so that we get as many different ideas as possible.
To keep some sort of structure to this chaotic process, and to assess whether ideas fall into the “crap”, “has merit”, or “ball-tearer” categories we assess them against a very special document. You guessed it – the Product Specification.
Once we have a short list of concepts we do some preliminary design work on these. This may consist of a few quick sums, more detailed sketches, or quick costings or other research to allow us to better assess the concepts. Generally this will result in one concept standing out clearly as the one to pursue.
Sometimes, two concepts may be neck and neck and we turn to the client for assistance in selecting the better concept. This is also often the stage where we start thinking about the intellectual property (IP) we are generating and that the client will wish to protect.
With very few exceptions, all IP we generate in the design process is assigned to the client. At this stage we recommend that patent novelty and infringement searches be conducted and that the drafting of a provisional patent specification commence. This is also the stage where technical risks inherent in the project need to be identified and a risk management plan put in place.