An Innovation Mindset – “Should you listen to your customers?” Continued

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on January 28, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Coaching Ins and Outs

Yesterday I talked about the tricky balance between the customer always being right and Henry Ford’s admission that if he had listened to people, he would have invented a faster horse.

Ford states it well and if I were to restate what he said I would put it a little more bluntly: the customer doesn’t really know what they need. I mean that customers know they need a solution to their problem or a fulfillment to their desire but they will solve that need with the best available solution. Thus, if Henry Ford had listened to the market, he would have given them a faster horse because horses were the available solution for getting around.

But Ford knew that the real need the market was experiencing was the need for easier, faster, (and less smelly?) transportation.

The same goes for Edison, too. He could have stuck with candles because the marketplace thought they needed candles. But he knew that what they really needed was light.

So, when you are thinking about innovating new products or services, stop thinking about augmenting existing solutions because that is what your customer is asking for. Instead, think about what their REAL need is and then create a solution that meets that true need.

Innovation is the key to all products and thought processes alike,

Heather Villa

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