Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Consider All Possibilities (CAP)

Recently over a two month period, I worked with James Sorensen and one of his clients to conduct a series of Concept Development and Assessment Programs.  In the development and assessment we utilized the S.P.A.C.E. research tool.  This venture of assessment, rework and reassessment brought back a lot of good memories

In the 1980s one of P&G's most intense product development periods, Keeping the Pipeline full was a very productive period.  In the Package Division alone, we uncovered over 180 laundry detergent ideas.  Our task in HPTG was to reduce the ideas to a manageable number and then to develop concepts for assessment prior to product development.  The 180 were reduced to 30-some that had high acceptability and high potential of development success.  The next step was to develop the concepts and reduce the number to 5 or 6 for product development.

Within HPT/PS&D, we had a group called the Creative Concept Development Group.  This group was totally devoted to concept work.  Sue Wissman was one of the leaders within this group.  Faced not only with the volume of work in our division involving laundry as well as dishwashing, her expertise was being requested from other divisions within the company.  We needed a way to speed up concept development and assessment.

Sue came up with the CAP approach.  CAP (or Consider All Possibilities) which cut the timeline on concept development by two to three months.  However, it involved a great deal of planning and up front cooperation by the client teams.  Basically CAP was designed to complete two months of work in three intense days of effort.

Consider the standard approach of concept development and assessment where we uncover an idea, evaluate the potential of the idea, develop the concept, evaluate the concept, rework the concept, re-evaluate the new version of the concept and once the concept is developed, determine the potential of the idea with the developed concept.  Sue's idea was to condense the timeline of most of this work into three days and also to utilize this time for more than one idea.  Enter CAP.

The CAP process first required pulling together the project team and taking a swing at writing 12 to 20 concepts as a starting point, followed by a three-day, off-site meeting.  This meeting would require representatives from Marketing, Product Development, Art Department, Advertising Agency and HPT as well as a lot of homemakers.

The basic format of CAP was to start the first day with a morning focus group session discussing the concepts.  All representatives of the team were back room observers.  Following the session, the results were discussed and the concepts were re-worked.  The Art Dept. was present to create new concept boards.  Two hours after the first focus group session, another session was conducted with the new concept boards.  Following the second session, the concepts were re-worked for the third session of the day.  A total of three focus group sessions were conducted for at least two days and usually a third day was needed for confirmation research.  As usual, as CAP sessions were being conducted, they were constantly being enhanced through the introduction of format changes.  Such changes would involve techniques such as S.P.A.C.E. to identify the hot and cold spots of the concepts and teach competition between FGI participants to write a better concept.

While CAP was a method within our tool box, it was a growing method where we were constantly looking at ways to make the sessions more effective.  The bottom line was that the method brought a great deal of time and money savings tot he research, along with a better understanding of the consumer's needs as well as adding to team formation.

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
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