What is a need? A small crack in our pavement of life that needs to be acknowledged and dealt. A need can be either that of our patient and/or mine as a therapist helping in implementing a change. For Example, take Shyness. More and more children are experiencing shyness because of technology evolution at earlier ages that causing them to become socially isolated.
Research, research, research
Is it Books and articles, colleagues, conferences, available educational products are available on the market.
There are no similar products in market
First, seek to learn whether this need is a true one. One must be humble, we should be aware that good ideas spring into more than one person`s mind. It must be certain that this product is not on market yet there is a true need for it, and I`m simply the first one to happen to stumble upon it. Then I must be quick about it before someone else will.
Ok, this product is needed. What now?
Identify the underlying emotions and feelings, how to reach them and what is the end point. For example, The Two Tuba Switch is about shyness. Many products are available on this topic, yet our end point slightly differs, we aim to accept shyness and not necessarily amend it. On the contrary, shyness has its pros, show the child how it can work for him. Then identify the cons and show how a child may work around it without letting it stop him from what he wants to do. Once he's empowered, it`s easier.
Or, answering many needs in just one product > finding a common ground. When contemplating about our second product we came across a need for products dealing with overweight, food allergies, sleep issues, substance abuse, communication and respect. Research and practice has shown that all share a common foundation, familial structure and a balanced daily routine, which lead to development of wizarday.
Magic of superpowers
A touch of magic makes a big difference. In The Two Tuba Switch, it is switching into objects.
A wise author once said: "when people ask me what am I doing idling-by in my hammock in the middle of a workday, I simply reply >> working". Good ideas always spring to mind once you let go and do something relaxing. I can stare at the computer screen blankly for hours on end, then come up with a great idea the minute I step in the shower, or go to sleep.
Testing, testing, testing
Create a very rough prototype based on that concept. Go to my neighborhood craft store and buy cardboard, glue, colors, stickers, play pawn, etc. devise a rough prototype. Play at home, fix it, in my clinic, fix it, play at my group therapy sessions, fix it. All the while ping-ponging it with my overseas partner who is doing much the same at his clinic and work at school with children. This is a crucial step and one must take time letting the product simmer for a while, as time in itself is a great evaluator.
A finer prototype
Once we are fairly sure about our concept/product, we broaden the spectrum of trials. At this point the product should be as nearest as possible to the end product. Therefore, it must be appealing and flawless. This is where our editor and illustrator come in. They polish the product visually getting it as close to being for market as possible and make the packaging look like it is ready for the store shelf. .
Testing at a higher level
Send it to professional play-testers and families which do not know you, for their comments. This round includes comments on both levels, content and design. Much like a good therapy session, the more comments and objections you receive, it is more plausible you are on the right track. That is, once you get over the initial shock from the extensive red markings on the comment file you receive. After a few such rounds, once we are sure the product is fun firstly and most importantly), empowering, simple enough yet diverse, and carries the educational message, we move into production.