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Leadership & Design

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Customer Driven Innovation Pt. 4

May 1, 2019 2:05:00 PM / by Travis Jacobs


Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going.

If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.

What To Design Is More Important Than How To Design It


Understand The Answers To Theses Questions … Customer Focused

Who is your customer?

Who is the end user?

Who is not your customer?

What is the job to be done?

What is the problem to solved?

What are the wants & needs of the customer?

  • Do you understand the difference between the two?
  • Does the customer understand the difference between the two?

Who are you designing this for?

What is the specific problem you are solving and who are you specifically solving it for?

What does the customer value and what will they pay for?

What does the customer consider non value added?

What does the customer consider waste and excess … what will they not pay for?

What are the problems and challenges the customer faces on a daily basis?



Why is solving this problem important?

  • What difference will it make?
  • Are solving the right problem?
  • Are you getting the right answers to the wrong questions?


When it comes to understanding the customers problems & challenges.

There are two buckets these fit into

  • Emotional Understanding
  • Logical Understanding


innovation emotion

Understand the answers to the following three questions from an emotional & logical perspective.

  • Understand what they customer is trying to accomplish ... achieve ... solve
  • Understand the problem and why they are trying to solve it
  • Understand why it is a problem


Customer & Team Questions To Be answered Collectively

Where is the finish Line?

What does winning look like?

What is the end state?

How do we know when we’re done?

What does good performance look like?

What is a win?

Define the scoreboard?



Talk With The Customer ...

What are they trying to do

Why they are unable to do it

What are the pain points ... how many are there ... where does it hurt

Why is it painful

How long has this been going on

How much pain it's currently causing ...

Rate the pain in 3 categories

  1. The good
  2. The bad
  3. The ugly


Quantify the desire for the pain to go away

  1. Low
  2. Medium
  3. High

How much is the problem worth to the customer and their business if it's solved correctly?

How much more pain will this cause if the problem is solved incorrectly ... has to be redone?


How much is this problem costing you?

How much would you be willing to pay for a solution?

What’s the value to the end user?

What’s the value to the business?

What would make this project a overwhelming success? 

What would cause this project to catastrophic failure?

How soon do you need it? 

How soon will you buy it when it’s done being developed? 

Who makes the final quality and buying decisions?

  • Can we talk to them?  

How quickly can you sell this? 


Charge for early development, for example $5,000 to produce a strategic plan and prototypes doesn’t generate profit but does generate customer buy in.

Customers have committed ... so they will be more likely to communicate, follow up and ultimately buy if they have skin in the game early.


brain bulb

Ideation / Concept

  • More simple experiments ... less than 30 minutes.
  • More cardboard prototypes ... simple representations
  • More ideas.
  • More concepts.
  • More knowledge ... more learning


So how do create more ideas ... concepts ... solutions?

We use the Talking Football to give everyone on the team a voice ... to make sure their voice is heard.

We use the Thinking Hats to generate ideas ... debate ... discussion ... constructive criticism ... Devil's advocate ... controversy.

If it's a bad idea .. we want to flush it out in the "Napkin Stage"

This is a divergent ... convergent thinking style ... go wide ... then go narrow



Simple Development Model

  1. Virtual Prototypes
  2. Rapid Prototypes
  3. Functional prototypes
  4. Production model


How do you know if your product is ready for market?


Expectations increase over time, so delivering rapid prototypes and keeping constant communication helps ensure success

The goal or objective doesn't change ... how you get there can change.



Development In A Nutshell

  1. Don’t develop in a vacuum
  2. Speed & accuracy wins
  3. Avoid “perfect plan” syndrome
  4. Explicitly state your assumptions ... Then challenge them
  5. Under promise & over deliver



If Any Of This Rings True ...

Let's Talk


The 7 Deadly Sins

Common Mistakes


Topics: Leadership, Engineering, Communication, Design, Fail, Innovation, Execution, Strategy, Tactics, Team, Winning, Discipline, ExtremeOwnership, Focus

Travis Jacobs

Written by Travis Jacobs

Travis is the president of JA Simulations, a product design & development firm in Denver Colorado. We help clients solve problems & get to market faster with innovative & high quality products

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