Over the years, we’ve seen business leaders question the employee time and airfare bills needed to interview customers in the front-end of innovation. But how much R&D and marketing was squandered developing a product that made customers yawn? That’s a question that should probably be asked more often.
More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs
The landmark book, The Three Rules, shows exceptional companies focus on a) creating higher-value products, not cheaper ones, and b) revenue growth, not cost-cutting. What initiatives are you focused on? Quality, productivity, global expansion, and acquisitions can be useful, but none will propel you toward growth that is rapid, profitable, and sustainable. Don’t let these side shows distract you from the main show… understanding and meeting customer needs better than others. As Peter Drucker said, “the purpose of business is to create and keep customers.”
More in video, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth series, Video Lesson #6
Does this seem like terrible advice? Especially in our age of hyper-attention to quarterly results? But if you focus too much on business results, you’ll degrade them over time. Why? You must also focus on capabilities. Steven Covey cautioned us to balance P (production or “results”) with PC (productive capability). Sadly, many business leaders forget the “capabilities” part. One capability is understanding the needs of your customers… so you can develop better products… for better business results.
See The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey
Some business leaders fixate on the short-term out of fear: They are cowed by Wall Street analysts’ reaction to their quarterly results. But others pump up near-term results to fatten their bonuses… even if it means crippling their company’s future capacity to grow. This is leadership larceny… stealing from the business’s tomorrow to benefit the leader’s today. The first rule of leadership is this: “Leave your business stronger than you found it.”
More e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth
Market Satisfaction Gaps (MSG) come from teams’ quantitative interviews, and are reliable evidence of which outcomes customer do—and do not—want “fixed.” When you require MSGs as the “admission ticket” for projects to enter the costly product development stage, 3 things go away: 1. Confusion (misunderstanding customer needs and their priorities), 2. Bias (altering customer needs to better fit our pre-conceived solutions), and 3. Filtering (cherry-picking customer needs to match those we hoped to hear.)
More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth
Jeff Bezos believes this is a more important question than “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” In the world of new product development, we find that customer outcomes—desired end results—tend to be more stable over time than supplier solutions. So instead of validating your solutions during customer interviews, seek to uncover and understand the most important, unmet customer outcomes. Then pursue these stable targets with your solutions.
More in video, New Product Blueprinting—the Future of B2B Innovation
For decades, “maximize shareholder wealth” has been the mantra recited in boardrooms. This is changing: Jack Welch even called it “the dumbest idea in the world.” It’s a lovely result, but a lousy goal. Your employees need goals that are actionable and inspiring. Chasing quarterly earnings fails this test. Instead, focus employees on creating superior customer value through new products. This leads to profitable, sustainable organic growth… which reliably leads to increasing shareholder wealth.
More in video, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth series, Video Lesson #5