Getting to your own Eureka! moment

Many of us hope for that Eureka moment, earnestly waiting for inspiration and answers to wash over us so we might reveal to the world our true creative brilliance, the innovative powerhouse of our mind, our naked genius.  Pushing harder for your own Archimedes moment is a futile waste of time, unless you know what you are really searching for.

The story of Archimedes and his discovery of displacement is synonymous with ingenious thinking, but I suspect you’ve never stopped to think how he had his Eureka moment. Many of you will know the story of Archimedes’ discovery of displacement he takes a bath, the water level rose as he immersed himself, he then realised his body displaced the water in the bath and he runs through the streets shouting Eureka!  Of course, armed with this valuable information, Archimedes’ understanding of displacement allowed him to go on and calculate the volume of gold in Hiero’s crown.




I chose this particular story as it so clearly demonstrates how a well defined issue or clearly defined question can assist in identifying real solutions.

While it is highly likely Archimedes had many baths before he made this particular discovery, what separated this bath from all the others?  Was it simply by chance that in this particular bath on this particular day at this particular time, Archimedes happened to make this valuable observation and understand its implications for Hiero’s crown.  Or was it perhaps Hiero’s clearly defined question – “What is the volume of gold in the crown?” I suspect, without this tightly defined question, Archimedes would simply have enjoyed another bath.

But what does all of this have in common with today’s entrepreneur?  And why should you care?  Bottomline; if you aren’t asking the right question then it is unlikely you will ever come up with a solution.  And if you aren’t coming up with good solutions, quickly and efficiently then you are just wasting time, effort and resources.

Don’t leave solutions to chance, dumb luck or bath time.  Think about applying a proven three step framework, like the one below, to ensure you clearly define your questions and maximise the likelihood of generating your own Eureka moment.


Step 1 – Situation Analysis

Build an understanding of what you or your business already knows.

Step 2 – Business Objective

What is it you are trying to achieve? Don’t just limit yourself to growth or value objectives, think about consumers too.

Step 3 – Core Consumer Question

This is the focal point. Be specific and be consumer focussed, not business focussed. Think about the change you are looking to drive in consumer behaviour.


I’ve chosen a well-used case-study from the beer category in the United Kingdom to demonstrate how the three steps come to life in a real world environment.

Situation Analysis

Diageo is the owner of the Guinness brand.  Guinness was the dominant stout drunk in the United Kingdom, however it was coming under increasing pressure from other stout brands. It’s market share was being threatened.

Guinness also suffered from poor sales over summer as consumers switched to imported Lagers which were seen as more fashionable.

This information was provided by Diageo’s research and branding agencies. However, it could just as easily have come from readily available research reports and articles via google.  Not having a research agency or a branding agency is no excuse for not having this sort of information about your products, your competitors and your consumers.

Business Objective

Diageo’s objective was simple: increase volumes of Guinness, without sacrificing profitability.

Core consumer Question

A badly defined consumer question might be: “How can Guinness be repositioned to increase sales?”

The problem with a question written in this style is, the consumer doesn’t really feature. Perhaps more importantly, there is no tight question that allows us to focus our attention and create that Eureka moment.

However, when we focus on consumers, all of a sudden we can get specific about what is need in order to change consumer behaviours.  So, a more consumer-oriented question in this example is: “What would motivate consumers to continue drinking Guinness during summer?”

As you can see, the second question (above) is well defined and specific.  We are looking for understanding about consumer motivations and why they switch from one brand to another style altogether.  And we have also narrowed down the brief to only look at a particular time; summer.

Using the question above (or something very similar) Diageo uncovered the reason consumers switched from stout to larger over summer was because Guinness was generally drunk warm and consumers didn’t feel refresh by warmer beer.  Obviously this was not an issue during the cooler months.  So Diageo set about launching a new variation of Guinness called Guinness Extra Cold.  The Extra Cold variant was initially sold as a limited edition during summer. It proved so successful, it quickly became a year-round product.

By using the three step approach outlined above, Diageo were able to understand the market, set their objective and define a specific consumer question which lead them to a consumer focussed solution – Guinness Extra Cold.

So next time you are struggling for an answer, take a few moments to define your market, set your objective and then think about the specific consumer question you are trying to answer. You might just be surprised at the answers you come up with and how quickly they are generated.

Interestingly, we never do find out if the neighbouring ruler cheated Hiero.


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