Blog Category: Innovation

Close the Customer Feedback Loop

Without VoC feedback, growth stalls.

Quality guru Edwards Deming taught us that “94% of problems in business are systems driven and only 6% are people driven.” With the right systems, a company will grow and thrive. And few are more important than the “feedback loop.” Unfortunately, this term has been used so broadly that the original and powerful meaning has ... Read More

Your “future you” will thank you.

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Don’t let your future be “that time you’ll wish you’d done what you’re not doing now.” You’ll be thankful later if you recalibrate your time horizon now… diverting some of your short-term attention to the future of your business. Besides, what you do this quarter is largely a spectator sport. The prices, profits and margins we wring our hands about during financial reviews were determined years ago by the new products created then for customers.

More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 7).

How much work is “too much” in the front end of innovation?

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Our research asked B2B professionals what drives profitable, sustainable organic growth. The #1 answer was delivering strong, differentiated value propositions. And the #1 differentiator between the best and worst value-creating companies was superior front end of innovation work (www.whatdrivesb2borganicgrowth.com). There are important front-end steps top-performing companies take to strengthen their value propositions. Consider seven steps using this lens: If ... Read More

The front end of B2B innovation is all about one thing. Learning.

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More specifically, it’s learning what you didn’t know about the customer’s world in your target market. If you think it’s about “ideating” to come up with cool supplier ideas—which you’ll “validate” with customers—you’ve got it all wrong. Start with customers and their needs… not with you and your notions. Focus on your solutions after you understand what those who might buy them want.

Learn more about B2B innovation at theaiminstitute.com

What’s your leadership style… “Interior Decorator” or “Builder”?

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If you’re mainly concerned with making the place look good quarter after quarter, you’re an Interior Decorator. Jeff Bezos was a Builder… running Amazon for seven years before turning a profit. The stock market still applauded him, because he had a building plan they could believe in. As Warren Buffet said, “Companies obtain the shareholder constituency that they seek and deserve.”

More in article, How to become a great business leader

The Cure for B2B Myopia: Jobs-to-Be-Done

Harvard professor Levitt began the JTBD discussion by teaching that the railroad industry should consider itself as the transportation industry..

Modern “Jobs-to-be-Done” thinking began with the most popular HBR article ever written: Ted Levitt’s “Marketing Myopia.” It begins this way: “Every major industry was once a growth industry. But some that are not riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are very much in the shadow of decline. Others, which are thought of as seasoned growth ... Read More

It’s not so difficult to move from Innovation Maturity Level 1 directly to Level 3.

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In Level 1, you start with your ideas and launch products you think customers will want. In Level 2, you still start with your ideas, but “validate” them with customers. In Level 3, you start with customer needs, using divergent and convergent interviews. You uncover a full range of outcomes and only work on those customers care about.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 7).

There are three types of growth. You can control one of them.

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The first is inherited growth from products launched long ago, which now “carry” your business. The second is market growth… the tide that lifts all boats. You can only impact the third—earned growth—by doing a better job than every competitor in understanding and meeting the needs of a market. This means it’s easy to be lulled into thinking your underlying growth is greater than it is.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 14).

Just think of all the mistakes you can make developing new products.

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You can miss an important customer need… pursue the wrong need… over-design and add unneeded costs… measure customer success the wrong way… overlook a competing alternative… over-estimate what customers will pay… under-value your product… use improper messaging. So many chances to err. Fortunately, B2B producers can use a “science” to avoid all of these.

More in article, How to Avoid New-Product Commercial Risk