What’s the impact of B2B-optimized customer interviews on product design?

We asked how much B2B-optimized interviews impacted teams’ designs for the products they were developing. Five out of six teams said the impact was “great” or “significant.” Hmmm… makes you wonder what those products would have looked like without these interviews. Do you think your new products could be improved this way?

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 2).

Launching products at customers is an incredibly inefficient approach to B2B customer insight.

Many companies develop and lob new products at their B2B customers without first exploring their needs. There may be less efficient ways to understand customer needs than waiting to see if they buy your product… but I truly don’t know what they would be. Years from now, companies will be amazed that our innovation methods were so supplier-centric and inefficient.

More in white paper, Timing is Everything (page 5).

There’s no need to fear the “suicide quadrant”.

This is what product developers call the Ansoff Matrix quadrant where you pursue an unfamiliar market with unfamiliar technology. A great place to kill your career. But you can enter it with confidence when you apply new methods for de-risking transformational projects… moving from uncertainty to certainty to defuse potential “landmines.”

More in article, How to Thrive in the “Suicide Quadrant (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Are your “P” and “PC” out of balance?

Decades ago, Stephen Covey explained we need to balance “P” (production) against “PC” (production capability). Today many companies just focus on this year’s results (P), without building the capabilities needed for future growth (PC). Don’t just hit the reset button and start over again every year. Instead, build the future you want.

More in article, Better get used to mediocre growth (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Why not imitate the leaders you admire?

Which business leaders do you admire… Henry Ford… Jeff Bezos… Elon Musk… Steve Jobs? Why do you admire them? Because they were great at slashing budgets, running financial review meetings, or giving quarterly EPS guidance? Here’s the irony: Many business leaders behave quite differently than those they admire.

More in article, How to become a great business leader (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Market-facing innovation routinely suffers from wrong facts and missing facts.

The #1 culprit for wrong facts is the untested assumption. Someone thinks the customer would like this or that, and the assumption morphs into a “fact” over time. A missing fact occurs when an important question is not answered. The overwhelming reason is… it’s never asked. With proper B2B customer interviews, you can avoid most wrong and missing facts.

More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

So many ways to fail. Do you have a favorite?

In the front end of innovation, though, there are just two ways to fail. An error omission is failing to uncover an unarticulated customer need. An error of commission is choosing the wrong customer need to work on. Funny thing about errors of omission: No one knows you erred… until a competitor launches a blockbuster product.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 5).

Stage-and-gate processes are necessary, but not sufficient.

A new product development process with stages and gates provides helpful discipline. But most suffer from two limitations: 1) Internal focus… talking to ourselves instead of customers. 2) Analytical thinking… promoting a checklist mentality. You also need discovery thinking, with a focus on learning. Unlike analytical thinking, this is fragile and must be nurtured.

More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

It’s easy to be distracted. Building real growth capabilities? Now that’s hard.

Some firms exhibit “Brownian motion,” with initiatives flying in all directions. In others, ideas are vigorously debated… in action-free zones. In other cases, action begins but quickly fades, leaving employees wondering what next year’s program will be. In the saddest situations, long-term initiatives live only in the investor relations department’s PowerPoint® slides.

More in article, Build Growth Muscles at Your Company (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

How is the modern B2B innovator like a weather forecaster?

In both cases models are used to predict future behavior. Barometric pressure and other data are the “raw material” for weather models. For you, it’s quantitatively measuring key customer outcomes in the front-end of innovation. Your model lets you replicate the customer experience… so you can know with confidence how they’ll react to any of your product designs.

More in article, How to model customer needs (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).