Friday, June 22, 2007

The Risk of Customer-Driven Innovation

In his article, Tony Ulwick, CEO and founder of Strategyn and author of What Customers Want discusses a number of reasons why capturing and using the voice of a customer to create breakthrough innovations can be ineffective. Instead of capturing the customer demands, he proposes to study, dissect, and understand "customer's jobs" in detail. The approach of Strategyn is based on understanding "a job which is being done by a customer" rather than focusing on specific parameters and features of products or services delivered to the customer.

Full article is available at

I completely agree with this point of view. Customers can't envision what they can't envision. Listening to a voice of a customer might be great to produce incremental innovation and slightly win over competition in red ocean, but coming up with radical or disruptive innovation to create blue ocean we need another type of knowledge and another approach. In some cases we even need to completely distract ourselves from the existing products and services to overcome mental inertia and see things differently.

In addition, Strategyn uses TRIZ to enhance their innovation consulting. There are some video clips including a short description of TRIZ by Tony Ulwick. But I want to add that modern TRIZ is used much broader than for solving "mechanical" problems only.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with this.

Suppose theres this problem P:


Heres how the problem gets defined:


Customer defines problem at C.
Executive defines problem at E.
Business Analyst defines at B.
Technologist defines at T.
Implementor defines at I.

Nobody hits P.

This is why, for example, software methods, such as extreme programming, that give all problem-defining powers to the customer and none to anybody else will go wrong.

Likewise, if implementors are allowed to only scratch their own itches it will go wrong as well.

Business Analysts are close, but even then the problem-solver has not yet come into contact with the actual problem.