Understanding a problem is the critical first step in developing a desirable solution. Consider the following when identifying a customer’s need:
• The original problem is rarely the real issue.
• Solving the wrong problem wastes time and money. Understand the cognitive, physical, social, cultural and emotional drivers that underlie the customer problem or need.
• Determine if you are involving the right people to frame the problem.
• Understand that when analyzing problems, people bring their experiences, biases and assumptions, which can mask the real needs of a customer.
• Remember that the purpose of a business is to serve customers and it does so by meeting needs in unique ways.
While defining the problem, a wide range of solution concepts should be generated. Business leaders must choose the appropriate concept to move forward and do the following:
• Create meaningfully unique solutions based on real customer problems.
• Communicate the value of new solutions and deliver the benefits of the promise.
• Commercialize the new solution with an effective business plan.
The innovation process also works to reduce risk by discovering threats. These threats are the obstacles and barriers that exist for any new idea. As threats are overcome, a firm should develop solutions by using portfolio management to select the best concepts to implement. Portfolio management is based on linking business strategy with operations and maximizing the value of all projects to manage investment risks and resource deployment.
Finally it is time to deliver new value and bring innovation to life. This is where a company realizes growth in revenue and profits by taking new offerings to market and increase customer value. The delivery effort is an area where most company leaders feel they have expertise, but many continue to repeat the failures of their past without learning and growing from those mistakes.
Delivering innovation does not happen by accident. It requires leadership, processes and skills to solve customer problems. Don’t waste time trying to prove the future, but create the future by using a system that leverages tools, methods and the expertise of your people who are eager to see their company succeed.
image credit: encarsglobe.com
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Roy Luebke is an innovation expert focused on discovering new, customer-driven opportunity areas to help define the future of a company. He is inspired by knowledge and learning, and applying structured tools and methods at the crossroads of strategy and innovation to achieve business growth.