First-time-right to speed up innovation in B2B, a recent discussion with a CEO

CEO: What do you do in Vendbridge?

V: We do something very simple: We observe and talk to your customers to find out what they try to achieve. Once we understand their pain points on this way, we work with your people. Together we create strategies and find new ideas to address those pain points. That’s our approach to help you to develop successful innovations.

CEO: We talk to customers all the time and this for years.

V: It’s true, your sales people and you meet customers everyday. You try to sell your products, which means you focus on your solutions. You look at selling arguments for your products, decision making dynamics at the customer side, price concerns, customer service issues, etc. These are very important factors for selling successfully, but not very helpful for innovation.

CEO: What is the difference?

V: We have a different perspective. We don’t focus on solutions, but at what your customers try to achieve in the context of their personal life or their work. And especially where they fail to achieve what they desire or dream off. If you know this more precisely, your organization will target innovation directly at areas where customers see an added value. Right from the start, first time right.

CEO: And what is it good for?

V: You can speed up the time to market for your new products.

CEO: How do you mean? You add an additional step in the process, and this should speed up instead of slowing down?

V: This will eliminate many iteration cycles later on. Think of all the meetings between R&D and Sales to decide which new features should be developed. Think of the strategy meetings to decide which markets to target with what kind of products.

CEO: I see. But we have a very technical product. With many people involved on the client side. How do you manage this?

V: Key is to identify the largest influencers in the decision process first. This could be in your case for example the production managers and the production line operators. Each group is engaged in dozens of activities in relation to your product and tries to achieve many different purposed. For example, production managers «plan workforce» or «report downtimes». They try to achieve «as little downtime as possible» or «spend as little time as possible to train new operators» . We systematically map these activities and the desired achievements by observing and talking to the involved parties. In practice, 80-120 criteria are put in a logical hierarchy. Then we let them rank by a representative number of influencers. Once you know what is important, you can align your ideas with the opportunities you now have uncovered. And you can evaluate existing projects in order to strengthen or to drop them.

CEO: First-time-right instead of unfocused trial and error. Probably it’s a mix of both.

V: Yes, experimentation with solution ideas is still very important. But striving to be right first time gives you clear advantages.


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