Did you know: 61% of companies say co-creation has enabled them to produce more successful new products and services.*
And over 50% of companies said co-creation has directly improved their financial performance. While co-creation has led a majority of companies to be more successful with their innovation, it also challenges our concept of defining what innovation looks like today.
Most organizations do innovation the wrong way around. They start with the business, not the user (who the business serves).
Here’s how the thinking flows:
The business needs to grow.
Therefore we need to innovate!
What could we do (in terms of capability/feasibility and low risk)
How can we find a way to sell that to our customers in the context of X brand?
From this is spawned a thousand different varieties of toothpaste, shampoo, yogurt, mattresses, hotels, comparison sites, etc. All of them do an excellent job of creating consumer confusion and market fragmentation but not much else.
If you are going to spend months or years preparing the launch of a new product/service then it might as well be relevant.
Why problems are the solution
The issue here is that innovators often think their job is to come up with ideas.
NEWSFLASH! It’s not.
The job of innovators is to come up with problems.
Once you have sharply articulated the real root problem, then finding a solution for it is usually pretty obvious.
Problem: I get stressed out on subway platforms because I don’t know when the next train is coming.
Solution: Signage that shows when the next train is coming.
Problem: I keep having to walk around the ironing board untangling the wire when I iron my shirts.
Solution: A wireless iron.
Apple vs. Sony
In the early 2000s, Sony’s innovation process revealed the following:
Problem: I want to be able to put my Discman in my pocket
Solution: The minidisc player
Apple’s innovation process revealed:
Problem: I want to be able to put my whole music collection in my pocket
Solution: The iPod
If identifying the right problems is crucial, what steps can we take to get there? It’s really a matter of where you spend time, energy, and focus.
Reframe your energy and focus
Most companies follow the ORANGE LINE below, spending the most energy and effort on ideation and concept generation.
However, to truly focus on solving the right problems, the team’s energy and effort should be the BLUE LINE.
Relevancy is the key here – it’s not about getting to more ideas. It’s about getting to the right ideas. That means you need customer closeness throughout the process:
– Deep understanding at the start to identify relevant pain points
– Co-creation in the middle to generate relevant ideas
– Smart evaluation and iteration at the end to sharpen propositions
In other words, your effort and energy need to follow the smiley shape, not the frown.
Turn that innovation frown upside-down
Co-creation ensures that teams are solving the most important problems that consumers experience. If you’d like to explore how co-creation could work in your organization, schedule a meeting with me or one of the Vurvey team members.
* Source: Hitachi, 2017, from a survey of 554 senior executives/directors