Recently, when visiting our R&D Team for a review meeting, Chris Browell our Head of R&D, made an observation that left me pondering. He said, “To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. But to the engineer, that glass is likely twice as big as it really needs to be.”
Beyond the irony of his teasing our engineers, when his statement sunk in, it made me contemplate how companies that are driven largely by an engineering focus (as is the case in our industry), can structure themselves to react to what customers really expect from them. It left me wondering how some companies seem to get this right all the time.
Today, it is quite common for many companies to talk about being ‘innovative’. However, most businesses continue to be dominated by a historical product-line and/or a manufacturing or channel focus, which often places little value on understanding the real needs of the customer. This leads to a product or channel development cycle independent of customer expectations, resulting at first in a slow evolution of the market, but with the potential for rapid dissonance when change does take place.
To be truly effective through innovation, successful companies learn how to first develop an understanding of the core needs of their customers and then alter their entire structure, including their product, manufacturing, service and distribution strategies to meet these objectives.
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