Let’s say you need to come up with new products and services that will make a lot of money. Here are 3 customer-centric principles that help you do first things first in new product innovation, and get far better results. We call them our “B4” principles (as in what comes “before” what).
Purpose B4 Profit: Your company exists to achieve a certain purpose (what Simon Sinek calls your “why”). Be clear and passionate about your purpose. And know that turning a profit is not it. Successfully fulfilling your purpose is how you make money; it will always entail satisfying desires of your customers. Which requires…
Customer B4 Product: It all starts with the customer. The notion of putting customer desirability ahead of technical feasibility is a hallmark of Human-Centered Design. Avoid the seduction of making things because you can, rather than because customers value what it does for them and will pay for it. This means…
Problem B4 Solution: First focus on identifying meaningful problems and unmet needs that customers care about before diving into technology and solutions. Even if you initially come up with a great idea of a new product, think through the lens of how it will improve the customers’ situation.
What is your experience practicing these “B4” principles?
How to Get to Breakthrough Innovation: Desirability First!
New Product Innovation: How to Determine the Winners
“But We’ve Always Done It That Way” – Zen, Zero-Based Thinking, and a Fresh Approach
John Lennon famously said, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.”
Some of our consulting engagements are with med tech and health IT companies that have created a culture of fear. They don’t say so. But it’s evident in how employees are treated, how customers are viewed, and most clearly in how decisions are made.
We try to help them move away from fear and toward love- even if we usually don’t say so (my fear??). The main way we do this is by putting the customer first. This enables people to let go of the need to magically know what products to make and how to market them effectively and instead co-create the necessary understanding together with their customers. The process, when done well, is as humbling as it is empowering.
Do you work from fear or love? Can you imagine loving your customers? What would change if you did?
More posts on how compassion is good business:
The Painful Cost of Disruptive Innovation: Uber & Cancer?
Introducing Compassionate Nonviolent Marketing: A New Paradigm
When I was serving on an expert FDA Risk Communication Advisory panel last week, a colleague described the “6Ms” marketing communications framework to the FDA staff we were advising. It’s been around for awhile and is still a useful mnemonic to remember what to consider when crafting a campaign. The 6 Ms are: Mission, Market, Message, Media, Money, Metrics.
Of course the classic marketing framework – or marketing mix – is the 4Ps popularized by Dr. Phil Kotler: Product, price, place (of distribution), and promotion.
Now the 4Ps have morphed into the 4Es: In our version, Product becomes Experience, Price become Equity, Place becomes Environment, and Promotion becomes Evangelists. I see this 4Es model as being the most customer-centric and thereby useful for developing a powerful customer/patient experience. More here.
What framework or mnemonic do you find most helpful?
I put on a workshop last week at the WLSA Convergence Summit on how to determine which new ideas to invest in — and which to avoid.
One key idea was the right way and wrong way to get and leverage customer input for new medical devices.
Wrong: Ask customers what features they want in your products or services.
Right: Ask customers what outcomes they want from using your product or service.
Most of the time, when we ask customers about solutions, we are abdicating our responsibilities and setting ourselves up for failure. It is not the responsibility of customers to figure out what features will provide the experience they desire or achieve the result the want. What customers can meaningfully talk about is what experience and outcomes they want. Once we know that, then we can back into why those outcomes are important. Then we translate that understanding into a product requirement and validate its accuracy and importance.
For example, we might hear respiratory therapists tell us in focus groups that they want the mask to be a certain shape. That’s a solution. If we took that solution at face value and passed it on to the engineers and designers as a recommendation, we would likely be misleading them because we don’t yet know the desired outcome. Instead we dig deeper to reveal why RTs want the mask to be a certain shape and what outcome it will achieve. We learn that the outcome is about maximizing patient comfort in older patients, not about minimizing air leakage. We can then propose and validate a measurable requirement designed to achieve that outcome, such as “Maximize comfort for older patients wearing a mask for more than one week.” Now the engineers and designers take over to bring the requirement to fruition.
Bottom line, asking the right questions gets customer input that leads to better products that solve meaningful customer problems.
Resource for more info: HBR article about designing useful outcomes-focused customer research.