Guest blogger Corey Mull is a researcher with the Marketing Leadership Council, a sister program of the Market Research Executive Board.
According to some, the world is in a state of stagnation when it comes to innovation. Last year, in reaction to that, I asked if there weren’t still pieces of low-hanging fruit in management – are there things that innovation processes don’t consider? Places managers don’t look for innovative ideas?
We’ve noted that ideas and products that derive from customer-focused innovation processes are most likely to survive and succeed in the marketplace, so part of our recently-launched Marketer’s Playbook (which anyone at a company with an MLC membership can access using the same username and password you use for the MREB site) is a section on innovating with customers in mind . We think if you can convincingly cover all three of these bases, you’ll be well on your way to creating great, consumer-focused innovations:
Incorporate customer insight. There are limitations to using existing products as a point of reference for insight generation, but companies have seen great success by harnessing the creativity of lead users during the product development process. You can also use existing customers to surface underappreciated needs and market trends. Surface unstated customer needs by focusing first on the task your customer is trying to accomplish with your product and then on how your customer measures success once they’ve completed the task.
Incorporate employee insight. Your customers aren’t the only ones that should be involved in the innovation process – employees are a great source of ideas about where to go next (as GM harnessed with their intelligence network) , but not in the ways you might think. You need to leverage employee insight and creativity across the organization in focused ways, and establish sensible guardrails to ensure employee-generated innovation stays relevant to the brand.
Build an effective team. Insights from customers and employees aren’t enough; an effective innovation process ends with a great team that turns insights into defensible products and services.