Innovation is a journey from Epiphany to Empowerment. The image below shows this journey and Equitus Engineering Limited's main areas of focus.
The Innovation Journey
Evaluate: Test the worthiness of the idea against market, company and surrounding ecosystem
Engineer: Develop the idea into a product/solution
Execute: Measure impact, monitor progress and monetise the solution
Enable: people, teams and organisations to do things they wouldn’t have been able to do without said solution
Empower: people so that the next epiphany strikes
Once the idea strikes, the very first thing to do is evaluate the idea. It is essential to evaluate the idea against the market, the company and the ecosystem. Today we focus on the market, and talk about Desirability.
Desirability is purely market focused. Typical questions we aim to answer here include ‘whom are we selling to?’, ‘what problem are we solving?’, ‘where are we selling?’ Look at the finished product/solution through the eyes of our target audience should be your focus.
Focus on the problem that needs solving or the issue that’s bothering your customer, rather than the product you plan to develop for them or your technical capability. If you are lucky, there won’t be any variance in their description of the problem and the actual problem. However, more often than not, there will be a significant variance. The main reason for this is that they are likely to be describing a downstream consequence that’s bothering them as opposed to the cause. What do we mean by this?
Imagine a customer calling their Internet Service Provider saying they can’t get online. Whilst that is the problem they’re facing, that’s not the real problem. It’s a downstream consequence. At this point, the technical support person will go through a series of probing questions such as whether the router is on, whether the Wi-Fi light and the Internet light etc are on. What the tech support is doing here is getting to the root cause, the real issue that’s preventing the customer from getting online. Only once the real issue has been identified can an effective solution be provided. Now, apply this same logic to your innovation process and to the problem you’re trying to solve for your customer.
Before we let you go, here’s a little anecdote. A famous multinational company once designed a manufacturing line that could make both table sauces and shower gels. They did it because they had the technical ability to do it. But when it came to selling this, both sets of customers rejected it because it was a manufacturing unit that was not specialist enough for their needs. The sauce guys said 'why do we need something that also makes shampoo' and the shower gel guys said 'why do we need something that also makes mayonnaise'.
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