Insights on Marketing & Technology

The ONE question that true innovators ask themselves

Innovation processes have for many years been centered around the question: “Can we build this?”. Consciously or unconsciously driving an inside-out innovation agenda with the focus on technological possibilities rather than discovering emerging customer needs.

Mads-Christian Brill Olsen
  • By: Mads-Christian Brill Olsen
  • Published: 20-03-2017

Bringing the customer at the centre of attention is essential in succeeding with innovation efforts. Most companies today recognise this challenge - but what does it really mean, and how do you become customer centric?

There are plenty of takes on how to approach it - Henry Chesbrough advocating the concept of Open Innovation, Eric von Hippel stressing the importance of User Innovation, just to mention a couple. But as it is often the case, the issue is not that nobody ever wrote about becoming customer centric - if you ever tried to Google it, you will know what I mean - but what is really the essence?
Simplicity is often the key to making change happen, and when we advise companies on innovation we always challenge them with ONE key question.

As mentioned, most companies are very focused on “Can we build this?”, but the issue with that question is that it promotes a linear thinking. This often means that way too much time is spent working on the feasibility of the solution before even approaching the first potential customer or addressing the business viability.

What we want to promote instead is parallel processing of all three parts - business viability, solution feasibility and of course the all-important customer desirability. That is why we need to ask ourselves: “Should we build this?”.

Even though this questions is about much more than customer centricity - that is the area where most companies struggle. Having to show prototypes or even pretotypes to customers at early stages of the development can be a ...

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Mads-Christian Brill Olsen

Mads-Christian is a Management Consultant at Implement Consulting Group where he advices Danish and international companies on how to structure and accelerate innovation efforts. He is also passionate about helping product-centric companies become more service-centric through focus on customer understanding, value proposition design, and service design methods.

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