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24 Concept Development Techniques

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Concept development is the creation of a foundational idea for a strategy, design or work product. This is the idea that gives your work its depth, meaning and value. Concepts are a starting point that may change along the path to implementation as a design is shaped by constraints and market realities such as competition and customers. The following are common concept development techniques.

Problem Statement

State what you want to achieve. This can be open-ended and can change throughout the concept development process.


Generating ideas without constraint, validation or criticism.

Backward Invention

Removing features and functions instead of adding them.

Business Experiments

Designing tests to discover information or validate concepts.

Challenging Assumptions

Identifying and challenging your assumptions.

Concept Testing

Get concepts in front of stakeholders such as clients,end-customers or end-users.

Counterfactual Thinking

Think about how the world might have been fundamentally different.

Creativity of Constraints

Add constraints such as a budget or deadline to improve creativity.

Feasibility Study

Determine if a concept is feasible.

First Principles

Apply rules with broad explanatory power that you hold to be true.

Idea Generation

Processes of generating untested brave ideas.

Analogical Thinking

Using analogies to simplify the complex.


Combine different things to develop new concepts.

Idea Screening

Validating and prioritizing ideas.

Reverse Brainstorming

Generating reasons that an idea will fail.

Multiple Perspectives

Temporarily adopt a perspective such as a customer with a particular need, background or motivation.

Multiple Mindsets

Adopt different mindsets such as optimism or pessimism.

Creative Control

Cooperate and collaborate but make it clear who makes the creative decision. Prevents the process of social compromise that creates mediocrity.

Inventive Step

The moment of insight that produces an idea that is non-obvious and valuable.

Lead Users

Engaging the advanced and influential users of your products or services.

Customer Advocacy

Using customer ideas and feedback to improve your design concept.

Throwaway Prototype

Building an inexpensive and fast prototype to test out a concept.

Evolutionary Prototype

Building an expensive version of a concept to advance, refine and sell it.

Design Charrette

An intensive group working session that doesn’t end until you reach a result.
Next read: Types of Design Concept

Concept Development

This is the complete list of articles we have written about concept development.
Business Concept
Challenging Assumptions
Concept Design
Concept Testing
Counterfactual Thinking
Creativity Of Constraints
Design Concept
Design Research
Divergent Thinking
Feasibility Study
First Principles
Idea Generation
Idea Screening
Inventive Step
Lead Users
Less Is A Bore
Less Is More
More Is Different
Preserving Ambiguity
Product Concept
Proof Of Concept
Worse Is Better
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