Experiential learning is defined as learning through reflection on doing and it is beneficial for a child’s cognitive development. Product Development means taking an idea to market and the intensive process provides an ideal environment for experiential learning. If a child goes through this process, the experience would teach them a lot. The child could learn to identify a problem, innovate solutions, create a roadmap to take it to the consumers, and devise business strategies.
In simple words, product development is a journey. Once the child embarks on this journey, each juncture teaches them something new by clearing apprehension, building confidence, and infusing risk-taking ability. At the end of the journey, the child emerges with a vast amount of knowledge and the experience enriches their future.
To understand the importance of product development experience for children, it is essential to first understand its basic process. Each industry has a different process, but broadly it can be divided into five stages:
What do innovators and entrepreneurs do? They observe, identify the needs, define it, ideate, and innovate solutions. Mind you, not everybody can be an entrepreneur. If a child comes up with an idea, this exhibits a child’s extraordinary ability to observe, understand the needs of the society, and provide a solution through innovation. It may be a simple thing, but in the long run, a creative and imaginative brain will have a competitive advantage at every stage in life. A productive and innovative mind can carve a niche in any field.
Ideas are not instantly converted into products. It goes through the product validation stage, an important step to ensure that the product will serve the purpose. A lot of research goes to validate a product. Imagine your child explaining the idea to his audience, taking feedback from various sources, researching online, and doing competitive analysis – the entire process will enhance the knowledge quotient and strengthen cognitive ability.
Most people around us are brimming with ideas, but a few have the ability to convert their thoughts into something definitive. Ideas are intangible, therefore, every idea needs a certain shape and design before it reaches the production stage. After conceptualization, an innovator has to convert the ideas into a tangible product to take it to the manufacturers, and it requires creative imagination. A powerful tool, creative imagination helps in preparing a sketch, designing the elements of the product, and creating a prototype.
Innovators have to make several versions of the product before arriving at the final product. This is called prototyping. Full of challenges, this stage tests the patience and perseverance of the creator as they encounter flaws and spend hours polishing the prototype. It is their perseverance that motivates them to iron out the flaws and overcome obstacles to create the final product by learning from failures. Once that is done, sourcing the material for production and costing starts, which is another learning experience.
Charting a product roadmap includes defining the product, setting the timeline for the delivery of the product, business objectives, and strategy. Usually, the product roadmaps are dynamic and they evolve as per changing customer needs and market demand. Analyzing the size of the market for the product and the existing consumer demand is important to make it a profitable venture. Because a successful product should meet the requirements of the market as well as the consumers. Learning all this at a tender age can be a boon for the children.
These steps highlight the gains of the process, therefore, for better learning, parents should put their children on this journey. Innovation doesn’t have to be earth-shattering; it could be a simple solution. It could be an alternative to plastic tumblers used at birthday parties or something eco-friendly to replace plastic boxes. What is important is the journey, the experience, and the gains from experiential learning!