The fuzzy front end of innovation confronts you with a lot of questions. In my new book ‘Creating innovative Products and Services’ I try to solve them with the FORTH innovation method.
In an earlier blog ‘Great Ideas got the X factor’ I identified seven characteristics for great ideas for innovative products, services or business models:
It is pretty evident that potential customers have to find the new product idea really attractive. However, there is more to it. Winning new concepts give potential customers a concrete reason to change. It will solve relevant problems of customers. This not only applies to the consumer market but also to business-to-business markets where services or products play often a huge role in the business processes of customers. When it comes to the decision to buy, many people and departments are involved. There will have to be a definite reason for change.
But how do you find these unmet needs? That’s the question! In the FORTH innovation method step two ‘Observe and Learn’ is dedicated to find innovation opportunities and concrete customer frictions.
A customer friction is a (re) discovered relevant need, urge or wish from a specific target group in a recognisable situation, which is not sufficiently satisfied and which you can use as a relevant basis for a new distinctive product concept.
The difference between what somebody wants and what he can have.
Let me give you 3 examples of winning new services, based on solving customer frictions.
Friction: I am living in an urban area in a small apartment or house and I have too much stuff.
Solution: Shurgard is a worldwide self-storage provider with over one million customers. It offers dry, clean and safe storage in big cities for self-storage, which you can access any moment from 6 am until 11 pm.
Friction: I have a project-based business. One moment I need 15 people and another I need 150. But I hate all the paper work this brings forth and like to focus on the business.
Solution: ADP Payroll solutions is market leader in payrolling in the U.S.A. They streamline your payroll process, improve productivity and simplify administration, so you can focus on running your business.
Friction: I am a professional consultant looking for projects. It is difficult though to get new assignments because my business network is limited.
Solution: LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 100 million members in over 200 countries and territories. You can connect to your current relations and they facilitate online introductions entering their network.
So if you want to create innovative products or services start with discovering relevant customer frictions to solve. There are several ways to discover them:
You can download two checklists on how to discover customer frictions for free. I hope you will find a lot of them at your target group!