Archive

This page contains the archive of all of the posts on this site. If you are looking for a specific topic, I would suggest you use the search function to the right.


That Sputnik moment

On October 4, 1957, Russia launched a beach-ball-sized satellite named Sputnik, which orbited the Earth in just over ninety-six minutes. The previous frontrunner in the space race, the United States, was now the runner up. Our only competitor had trounced us, seemingly out of nowhere. A month later the Russians sent up Laika, a small […]Read More »

Finding Ways to Offer Underused Resources

I’m an innovation guy. It may not say so on my business card, but that’s what I do. I encourage people, whether inside HP or in my meetings with customers around the world, to accept that they and their product are going to have to change. No matter how popular and successful your work is, […]Read More »

The zero-tolerance consumer

The designers and engineers who work at HP face many challenges in getting their ideas signed off on. It’s a long process from an idea to a finished prototype. Before any product can hit the market, it faces one final test. I take the prototype home, give it to my wife, and say, “Tell me […]Read More »

The Benefit of Being Strategically Disliked

The flipside to any positive emotional connotation or connection is a negative one. If you are inspiring enough such that some people love what you are doing, odds are you are going to be inspiring others to dislike your product with an equal passion. Plenty of companies trade on the fact that they represent something […]Read More »

Extract Value from Old Assets

Magazine publishers are in the same predicament as the book-publishing and recording industries before it. How do you keep your customers believing that your content is worth paying for when there is endless free content available on the Internet? Some fashion magazines are experimenting with making their print issues feel like “must-buy” items; Bazaar and […]Read More »

Products that make customers say, "I did this!"

Do you need to have a finished product in order to make a sale? Is there any way that not offering a finished product would actually give you an advantage, or even become a selling point? Suppose that your manufacturing costs appear to have gotten as low as they can without sacrificing quality. Even if […]Read More »

Is it foolish to continue an obsolete product?

What would you have to do to make your company, and its product, so essential to your customer that they would refuse to let your business die? Imagine that kind of passion for what you do. Imagine a customer base so emotionally invested in the unique characteristics and qualities of your particular brand that they […]Read More »

Weak Signals

“Weak signals” are the equivalent of a canary in a coal mine. They are the unspoken needs and wants of your customers, and they are also the arrows pointing to what your customers are going to need and want in the future, even if they themselves don’t know it yet. If you pay attention to […]Read More »

Typing Instructor: Forget the obvious solution

One of the first products I created as a software developer was a touch-typing program called Typing Instructor. This was back in 1985, and at that time there was no such thing as a standard PC. Instead you owned a specific brand and had access to the programs that had been written specifically for that make, […]Read More »

Know that your customers' needs will change

A big part of my business is being aware of, and responding to, the life cycles of my industry and my customers. Some of these are easy to see; you only need a cursory understanding of the effect of OPEC on gas prices in the early ’70s to understand why cars became more fuel efficient […]Read More »

Where are your future customers?

Every hot trend reaches a point I like to call the “Uncle Larry moment.” You know what I mean. It’s the juncture where one of your older relatives announces he’s taken up something that had seemed cutting edge, futuristic, and exciting up till that second. Facebook and Twitter have long passed the Uncle Larry moment. […]Read More »

Being on board with social evolutions

Every hot trend reaches a point I like to call the “Uncle Larry moment.” You know what I mean. It’s the juncture where one of your older relatives announces he’s taken up something that had seemed cutting edge, futuristic, and exciting up till that second. Facebook and Twitter have long passed the Uncle Larry moment. […]Read More »

Changing customers

At HP, we have an Executive Briefing Center; where our large corporate clients come to be briefed about the latest technologies and products that are either in development or about to hit the market. Now, technically this service is for them. We are offering them information and opportunities to stay ahead of the newest advancements […]Read More »

Decide to Keep or Push Out Customers

We tend to assume that any customer is a good customer. However, if you find that you’re working like crazy and have a solid and reliable customer base, but you’re still not making the profits you expected, then ask the Killer Question, Who do I not want to use my product? Do you remember back […]Read More »

What customers are saying and thinking about you

A few years ago, a passenger complaint letter to Virgin Atlantic circulated around the web. It was very long, fully illustrated with photos, clearly somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and very funny, but it made a few good points about the bad food and surly service this particular passenger had experienced. Almost three years later it still occasionally […]Read More »

Keep your users passionate in a positive way

I’ve never shopped at the online craft marketplace Etsy.com. I’m not often in the market for hand-knitted iPod cozies, customized guitar cables, or the like. However, since 2005 Etsy.com has signed more than 400,000 merchants and nearly seven million users. Their annual sales figures for 2010 were $273 million. Even more interesting to me is […]Read More »

Unshakable Beliefs: Know What Your Customers Want

One thing is to know what your customers want to do, another is to understand how they intend to get it done. It’s easy to look at their goals and tell yourself that your product will match their needs. However, if you don’t understand their internal philosophy about what they are doing and why they […]Read More »

Discovering the Hidden Buying Criteria of Your Customers

Do you know what your customer’s reasons are for choosing your product over that of your competitor’s? When was the last time you really explored what does, or doesn’t, motivate your customer? What is hidden buying criteria they use? Just a few years ago a computer’s screen size was one of the key decision factors […]Read More »

Your objective is to sell your product. Your customers objective is to solve a problem.

Once a product has sold, it’s pretty much out of your control. You may have an idea why people will buy it, and what they’ll do with it, but the most you can ever do is guess. So why are you assuming that you know what your customer actually likes and values about your product, […]Read More »

Explore Observe Ask: Suspend Your Own Assumption

I used to spend a lot of time in India, as most tech guys do. The subcontinent can be spectacularly disorienting for a Westerner. On one trip, I stayed in a blissfully air-conditioned, five-star hotel. Outside there was 100-degree heat, and the uniquely foul stench of Kolkata’s open sewers and packed streets. Inside I had endless […]Read More »

Understand The Needs Wants and Fears of Your Customers

All your work, all your ideas, all your devotion and sacrifice mean nothing if you’re not confident of whom you are doing it for or why. In order to succeed—whether you are developing a new product, service, or process—you must understand the needs, wants, and sometimes fears of the person you are targeting. Why is […]Read More »

Not Understanding Who Your Customers Are

A couple of years ago my kids gave my ninety-three-year-old grandma a digital picture frame for Christmas. It contained several hundred photos that they had painstakingly selected, organized, and then downloaded onto it. Every minute or so a new image of the kids living their lives would appear; exactly the kind of thing any grandmother […]Read More »

Why You Need an Innovation System

So, what happens if you don’t use an innovation system like FIRE to innovate and execute the strongest ideas? One of the biggest dangers of not having a way to identify and execute the best ideas is that weak ideas get selected and the results are disappointing. When this happens, management loses confidence that the organization […]Read More »

Constraint Based Innovation

One of the keys I’ve found to successful execution is constraint based innovation. It is exactly what it sounds like. When I’m in the execution phase of the innovation process and assigning teams to various ideas, I’ll ask them, “How long will it take for you to create the product?” Whatever answer they give me, […]Read More »

How To Use A Stage Gate Funding Model To Create Your Innovation

My motto throughout my career has been “Ideas without execution are a hobby, and I’m not in the hobby business.” Execution is a risk; it requires commitment, money, and manpower; but there’s no point going through the process of ideation if you’re not going to do anything with the end result. In the end, successful […]Read More »

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