I hope that everyone got a chance to read Maggie’s post on Tuesday,“Get the "Close to the Work" ReEnergizer.” It was a great post about how doing the work can bring life back to a leader. I want to build on that and talk about not just helping to create ideas, but the importance of understanding and using the product you are innovating.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard a client state that they would never use the product that they market and sell. It was hair care and almost all of them stated they only use products from the salon.
I wish I could say it was the last time I heard a client state they didn’t use their own product. The worst might be, “You want me to eat that? I would never eat or serve that to my family.”
I want to know how you plan to improve or invent new product ideas when you have no personal knowledge of the product?
Okay, so you have the reports from consumer research and all the financial numbers, but that is not what I mean. Do you have personal experience using your product? Have you felt your consumers pain?
Play secret shopper if you work for a retail store. If it is packaged goods be your consumer go to the store and buy your product - take it home and use it. Don’t just cook the product EAT it! And if it stinks work at home on ways to improve it.
After a recent session that was particularly tough on the client at the end of the session when we went around the room and discussed what we had learned that day - one of the leaders stated, “We owe them more. We’ve let our consumers down.” This group of honestly very well meaning folks who do love their company had no idea how the consumer felt about their product - they were shocked with the negative reputation it had. Many had never experienced their product outside of Headquarters.
I hope that you take what I’ve said and the next time you are challenged to create the next great idea you’ll get your hands dirty in the process. I know before you walk through our door we've spent some time getting our hands dirty.