Blog Category: Awkward Realities

Fixate on the only source of unlimited potential, not sources of diminishing return.

12-Diminishing-Returns

Unlike innovation, quality and productivity apply to current operations and yield diminishing returns. What do you do after you reach zero defects… or your factory is being run by the proverbial “man and a dog”? (The man feeds the dog; the dog bites the man if he touches the controls.) Customer-facing innovation is different. There is no limit. Just look at Apple Computer.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 2)

Don’t expect your stage-and-gate process to do what it was never designed to do.

11-Square-Peg

It was designed to manage the interface between project teams and your company… for portfolio analysis, resource planning, risk reduction, tracking, etc. Fine, but you also need to improve the interface between teams and customers. Competitive advantage in customer-facing innovation requires skills and tools your competitors lack.

Learn more about B2B innovation at www.theaiminstitute.com

Once your new product is launched, the pricing insight window slams shut.

Pricing B2B Products - Pricing New vs. Existing Products2

Customers will help you set prices before—but not after—you launch your new product. They want you to develop innovative new products and services that deliver value to them… so they’ll give you insights to make this happen. These same insights allow you to establish optimal pricing. Do you know how to do this? It will be too late after you launch your product.

More in article, Pricing New vs. Existing Products (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

“Maximize shareholder value” is the pledge of allegiance recited in board rooms. It is a poor goal.

9-Business-Pledge

This mantra guides the decisions of the business masses. But is it right? Peter Drucker didn’t think so. He said the primary purpose of a business is to acquire and keep customers. I believe increased shareholder value is a good result, but a lousy goal. You’ll have better results if your goal becomes: “Understand and meet the needs of our customers.”

More in article, Why Maximizing Shareholder Value is a Flawed Goal

The B2B interviewer should have two goals: customer insight and customer engagement.

8-Customer-Engagement

Research shows the best way to sell a product is to probe customers’ needs. But why wait until the product is developed? If you probe beforehand, you’ll create a better product and “pre-sell” your product. This isn’t practical for interviewing millions of B2C toothpaste buyers, but it is for concentrated B2B markets. B2B engagement skills aren’t difficult. Do you have them?

More in newsletter, How to Grow in a Stagnant Economy (Nov-Dec, 2008)

Overwhelm your competitors by turning a trickle of customer feedback into a torrent.

7-Torrent

Some companies rely on a handful of internal VOC (voice-of-customer) experts to interview customers. You’ll do far better if you train a critical mass of employees—who routinely interact with customers anyway—to gather customer needs. Keep your VOC experts as coaches and trainers, but implement “VOC for the masses.”

More in executive briefing, Seven Mistakes that Stunt Organic Growth

If you like confirmation bias, you’ll love “validating hypotheses.”

5-Confirmation-Bias

Think you can validate your new product concept with customers and avoid confirmation bias? In your last performance review, did you disagree with your boss’s praise more than his criticism? If not, you may not have mastered confirmation bias quite yet. So stop leading the witness in interviews. Let them lead you to what really matters… to them.

More in newsletter, Give your Hypothesis the “Silent Treatment” (Nov-Dec, 2014)

Profitable, sustainable organic growth makes it fun to go to work.

4-Fun-to-Go-to-Work

When you can count on this kind of growth, everything gets better. Employees have stable, rewarding careers… industry-watchers admire your company… investors give you a free reign.  And this irritates competitors. You have but one path to this growth: innovation that benefits your customers. How intense is your focus here? Greater than competitors’?

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 2)

Your B2B customers are smarter than you.

3-Smart-Customer

It may be OK for consumer goods producers to guess their customers’ needs. After all, their product developers are end-consumers themselves. But your B2B customers know so much more than you about their needs. Isn’t it silly to guess their needs, when they’d love to tell you… if you asked the right way?

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 1)