In this post, we will explore how Large Language Model (LLM) tools like ChatGPT can support a systematic idea-generation process that utilizes heuristics to guide divergent thinking. Specifically, we will examine how a supermarket in Columbia, Missouri can improve its business processes using the "Removal" heuristic or "Elimination" thinking tool, which involves generating divergent ideas by removing an existing element from a system. The Elimination thinking tool is one of the 11 thinking tools of Innomantra's Functional Innovation Methodology.
Why is the "Removal" or "Elimination" heuristic effective for generating creative ideas? For an idea to be considered creative, it must possess two elements: novelty and value. To be considered novel, an idea must appear surprising or different from what is expected. Removing a component from a system creates a perception of novelty relative to the degree of expectation of that component. However, it's important to note that the more embedded or expected the component is, the harder it is to remove, as there is usually a good reason for its presence. But if it is removed, the perception of novelty is also much higher. In terms of value, elimination can yield benefits in different ways. For example, it can reduce negative system parameters such as cost, weight, or waste, or it can introduce an unexpected source of efficiency. Removing a part of a system may make it more streamlined.
Now, let's put this knowledge to use and enlist the help of ChatGPT in generating ideas. First, we will ask it to identify various business processes associated with the store. Our prompts are in blue and are italicized, and the response of ChatGPT is in green.
Spencer's, a large supermarket located in Columbia, Missouri, is seeking ways to improve its business processes. Can you list some of the common activities and processes involved in the functioning of a supermarket, such as restocking products and removing expired items?
Some common activities or processes associated with the functioning of a supermarket like Spencer's may include:
- Ordering and receiving new inventory
- Storing and organizing products on shelves and in backrooms
- Pricing and labeling products
- Setting up and maintaining displays and promotions
- Operating cash registers and handling customer transactions
- Managing employee scheduling and training
- Cleaning and maintaining the store's physical appearance
- Handling customer complaints and concerns
- Auditing and tracking sales and inventory data
- Planning and implementing marketing and advertising campaigns
- Managing relationships with suppliers and vendors
- Implementing and maintaining security measures to protect store's assets and customer's information.
- Storing and organizing products on shelves and in backrooms: This is critical for ensuring that products are easily accessible to customers and that the store presents a clean and organized appearance.
- Operating cash registers and handling customer transactions: This is critical for generating revenue and providing a positive customer experience.
- Auditing and tracking sales and inventory data: This is critical for understanding the store's performance and making informed decisions about inventory and staffing.
- Managing employee scheduling and training: This is critical for ensuring that the store has the necessary staff to operate effectively and that employees are equipped to provide excellent customer service.
- Cleaning and maintaining the store's physical appearance: This is critical for creating a positive customer experience and maintaining the store's reputation.
- Implementing and maintaining security measures to protect store's assets and customer's information: This is critical for preventing loss and ensuring the safety of both the store and its customers.
- Ordering and receiving new inventory: This is critical for ensuring that the store has the products customers want to buy.
- Planning and implementing marketing and advertising campaigns: This is critical for bringing new customers to the store and increasing sales.
- Managing relationships with suppliers and vendors: This is critical for ensuring that the store has access to a wide range of products at competitive prices.
- Handling customer complaints and concerns: This is critical for maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Placing products on shelves in a logical and easy-to-find manner, with similar products grouped together and prominently displayed.
- Keeping shelves and displays fully stocked and properly rotated to ensure that products are fresh and that older products are sold before they expire.
- Keeping the aisles and displays clear of clutter and debris, so that customers can easily navigate the store and find what they are looking for.
- Keeping backrooms and storage areas organized, so that products can be easily found and restocked as needed.
- Properly labeling and identifying products and their location, so that employees can quickly find and retrieve them as needed.