Bug-list Technique

According to Hendry Petroski, the author of ‘The Evolution of Useful Things’, inventors share the feeling of being driven by a real or perceived failure of existing things or processes to work as well as they might. Fault-finding with the world around them and disappointments with the inefficiencies with which things are done appear to be common traits among inventors. According to Marvin Camaras, an inventor quoted in the same book, ‘inventors tend to be dissatisfied with what they see around them . . . maybe they’re dissatisfied with something they’re actually working on or with an everyday thing…they say this is a very poor way of doing it.’ The bug list technique was developed to capitalize on this tendency of faulting things around us – to lead to corrective action.

Procedure for Use of the Technique

1. The group is asked to identify things that irritate or ‘bug’ them. Each person is asked to identify five or 10 bugs.

2. Then the list is consolidated to identify the bugs common to most persons.

3. The group is led through the list and asked to vote.

4. Then the group brainstorms ways to resolve the bugs

Example for Use

Bug Solution

‘That wretched bookmark fell out of my book again!’ Post-it Note

‘Drat! I nicked myself again. This happens every time

I change blades.’ Electric Razor

‘Where did I put those extra batteries?’ Solar powered appliances

‘I hate paying a tax accountant to prepare my income tax report.’ Tax Preparation Software

Identify the bugs in your product or process and look for a solution.