We learned a lot last Friday about uncovering customer needs.  For some of us, it was a helpful reminder of who we are designing our products for.  For others, it was exposure to new tools and techniques for getting to the hearts and minds of a consumer.  For everyone, it was a chance to engage in conversations with like-minded innovators.  For those who joined us, please reach out to the folks you met and see how they're doing on their own journeys of customer-driven solutions.

A very small sample of what we heard:

  1. Middle Class prosperity is an illusion:  The middle class is struggling (stagnant wages; employment uncertainty; household debt; foreclosures and bankruptcies; rising cost of childcare, healthcare and education.)  Other contributing factors – Technological change, Globalization & Competition, Workplace Changes, and Weak Unions.
  2. "Nothing important happens in the office."  The answers to most business questions are "not in the the building." 
  3. Challenge the data:  Blindly trusting the data we receive causes rework, change controls, lack of cohesion
  4. Understand where your product fits into the context of use.
    • Today’s current consumers multitask constantly, switching modes as they complete their tasks, or “jobs.” Each of the jobs they undertake has to some degree a functional, emotional, social, and aspirational component. 
    • Thanks to smart phones, customers can now show you a product as they experience it, over time
  5. Innovation = Meaningfully Unique.  If you’re not meaningfully unique, you better be cheap.