Great insights, and suggestions, from Albert Lee, New York office head at Ideo, in the February edition of Fast Company.
In a discussion of ideas and innovation Albert shared five “lessons learned” at Ideo. Here are his suggestions and my translation for any business marketer:
- “Get you hands dirty.” Walk in your customers’ and prospects’ shoes. Understand the user experience from their perspective and learn what you can do to improve upon it. Ask your best customers what you can do better. I once rode in a Class 8 truck from Ogden, Utah to Greensboro, North Carolina interviewing truck drivers along the way. When the ride was over, we had key insights that drastically improved our marketing plan and saved my client a ton of potentially wasted marketing dollars.
- “Expand your competitive set.” Don’t rely on your own definition of competitors, rely on your customers’ definitions. Understand how your customers use your product or service and why versus who they define as your competitors. Doing so will help you see who or what may be an opportunity for you to expand your product or service offering.
- “Cross-pollinate.” Having worked with more than 80 clients in 18 different vertical industries, I’ve seen how problems experienced by telecommunications can be solved by solutions used in airlines, likewise how something you learn marketing Rolaids can be applied to Volvo Trucks. People who have only worked in one industry are working with blinders when it comes to ideas and innovation.
- “Bring in fresh eyes.” Good ideas, fresh ideas can come from anyone in your company — particularly those employees who are interacting with your customers every day. You will benefit by empowering your employees to help you improve and innovate your product, service and customer experience.
- “Be quick to prototype.” Make mistakes early and often, just don’t make the same mistake twice. Test everything. Keep what works and then keep trying to improve upon it.
What steps are you taking to improve ideas and innovation in your firm?