What do you think turntable manufacturer Technics was working on when Sony and Philips jointly introduced the world's first CD player? I'm guessing that it was a sharper record needle or something like it.
Design thinking teaches us that value creation begins with truly understanding the target customer's experience, including the various jobs to be done. Immersing ourselves this way can enable us to conceive of opportunities to significantly enhance or even transform the customer experience. Otherwise, our focus becomes limited to identifying improvements to a specific product. This approach will generally result in incremental product improvements. Good, but hardly transformative.
Here's an example to illustrate my point. The Acme Company's product development team is tasked with developing a superior hair trimmer. Conventional thinking would have them focus on their target consumers' likes and dislikes about current products. This approach could lead them to some meaningful product enhancements but realistically, they probably won't be game changers.
In contrast, applying a designer mentality to this challenge and examining the customer experience would reveal that with current trimmers, adult males can't accurately trim their sideburns without having to contort their neck or rely heavily upon their peripheral vision. Nor do current trimmers currently allow users to accurately trim their hair from the back of their neck without another person's assistance. And so forth...
So, instead of simply focusing on current hair trimming products as the starting point for a new product exploratory, Acme product developers should concentrate on the customer's experience, including their ability to accurately, conveniently and comforably trim their own sideburns and neck hair. High tech need not be Acme's go-to, though recent advances in compact, high quality, and inexpensive imaging technologies, sensors and hair removing lasers might be useful. At minimum, this type of thinking promises to change the way we would approach this particular challenge.
In summary, we should launch an innovation inquiry by understanding the target customer and their current experience, including the jobs they wish to accomplish. If we do this, we are in a much stronger position to reimagine an exceptional consumer experience...including the products that will deliver it. Looking for a collaborative resource to help take your innovation planning to a new level? Consider giving me a call.
For a virtual crash course on design thinking, check out this webpage: http://dschool.stanford.edu/dgift/
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.