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).

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?

Got a new product hypothesis? Give it the “silent treatment” during customer interviews.

I love it when our clients have cool technology and clever ideas. But don’t mention these to customers during VOC interviews. From the customer’s perspective, the interview should look exactly the same whether or not you’ve got a great hypothesis. Give your hypothesis the silent treatment for now. Simply listen to the customer.

More in article, Give your Hypothesis the “Silent Treatment” (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth).

Strong innovation metrics should be insightful, predictive and actionable. Not missing.

Strong intermediate (vs. ultimate) innovation metrics share these qualities: 1. Insightful: They help firms understand relationships between cause and effect. 2. Predictive: They measure behavior that will foretell ultimate success. 3. Actionable: Their short “feedback loop” allows rapid adjustments to be made. Are you using such metrics?

Read more in the article, 3 Problems with Innovation Metrics (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

You probably have great “improvement potential” in 3 of 4 value propositions steps.

Consider four steps: 1. Understand value, learning which important outcomes customer lack. 2. Quantify value, estimating the potential value beyond customers’ next best alternative. 3. Build value, by developing a new offering. 4. Communicate value, with a dynamic launch. Most companies can get much better at steps 1, 2, and 4.

More in article, Three Steps to Unbeatable Value Propositions (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Your goal should be to waste fewer innovation resources than competitors.

Well, isn’t that inspirational? Perhaps not… but remember you’re in a constant battle with competitors to innovate for customers. One of the best ways to tip the “efficiency” balance in your favor is to consistently learn when projects are unattractive… before competitors. Then decisively kill them so resources can be used for winning projects.

More in article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?

If you’re eradicating surprises in quality & productivity, it’s hard to embrace them in innovation.

Innovation is fueled by the unexpected. But many suppliers are surprise-averse. They start with their own ideas, filter them through internal processes, and avoid customer-led interviews. In an odd twist, surprise-averse suppliers are the most likely to be surprised… by mistaken market assumptions and blockbusters introduced by surprise-seeking competitors.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 10).