How do you keep growing as an established medium-sized company? In our continuing series on Growth, we take a closer look. Sustaining growth requires “building innovation into the rhythm of business operations” as Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google explains.
Harvard professor and CEO of Perkins School of the Blind, Dave Power tackles this in his book, The Curve Ahead: Discovering the Path to Unlimited Growth, by asking relevant questions and drilling down on what customers are looking for and how to keep coming up with useful, innovative solutions to meet these needs and desires.
Whether you are developing a digital customer product/service or you are designing a consumer electronic device or physical product (furniture, equipment, etc.), using a process that encourages new ways of thinking is vital. New fresh thinking helps you see problems in new ways and come with different, innovative solutions that can not only solve the direct problem at hand, but also related unarticulated needs as well.
Here are 4 questions to ask that Jeanne Leidtke, co-author of Designing for Growth proposes:
1. What Is?
Understand your customer’s current situation and problems they face. What are their unarticulated needs? What is a desired customer experience?
2. What If?
Explore solutions if anything is possible. Generate ideas.
3. What WOWs?
What are the best ideas that you have come up with that can solve this customer problem and unarticulated need at a reasonable cost while delivering a great customer experience?
4. What works?
Test out what is feasible using prototypes as best as possible. Get early feedback from your customer.
The d.school at Stanford offers a 5-step framework for innovation:
1. Empathize: Experience the world as your end user experiences it.
2. Define: Develop a point of view that frames the problem.
3. Ideate: Go beyond your immediate obvious solution and develop new options.
4. Prototype: Explore and interact with new concepts with physical prototypes.
5. Test: Test and refine these prototypes using feedback from your customers.