Fresh Eyes on Innovation

Green eye symbolising fresh eyes on innovation.

Are you looking to gather information for innovation? If so, it’s easy to get caught up in the issues of designing the right market study – defining its scope and the methodology. But what about the findings? How are you going to process them and handle the outputs – you’ll need to plan for that too...

When Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in 1905 he was using scientific knowledge that that had been published many years before?

Poincare, also a highly skilled mathematician, and 25 years senior to Einstein had been aware for some time of the data that was key source material for Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

So why didn’t Poincare come up with a Theory of Relativity?

The story goes, that Einstein ‘looked at the data differently’ and ‘made new connections with it.’ At Anatellô we call this ‘seeing with fresh eyes.’ (SWFE)

Seeing with Fresh Eyes.

SWFE is a powerful skill. It enabled Einstein to be ‘first to market’ with his theory. It’s just the same in business. SWFE can help us develop breakthrough innovations.

It can be tempting at the start of an innovation project to think we need more data. Perhaps, we just need to look at what we already have with ‘fresh eyes’.

In business, SWFE is seeing our customers, and hearing what they say about their needs - without filters. We all view the world through filters – we have to. A lot of information  comes into our brains everyday (some claim up to 5,000 branded messages). We filter it by distorting it, deleting it and generalising it. This helps us fit it into our current ‘map of the world.’ If we didn’t do this we’d be overwhelmed.

When it comes to innovation though, filters are the enemy. Perhaps you’ve attended a research group? In that situation, our filters can prevent us hearing the richness of the observations, experiences and exclamations that our customers and potential customers are trying to share with us. They may be voicing their dissatisfactions (and satisfactions) that they have with our product. The danger is that we think we’ve heard it all before and filter it out.

Are you really hearing what your customers are saying? It’s only by doing so that we can solve our customers’ problems – in effect, innovate for them.

Suggested Action: If observing qualitative research, you may want to try the following to help dissolve filters.

  • Before the session try and empty your mind of everything you have learned about your customers to date.

  • Listen, no, really listen

  • Listen out for ‘the dumbest thing that someone said…’

  • Think and record the images that come to mind when respondents are talking.

  • Guess what the ‘non-verbals’ of the respondents are suggesting.

Warning: This may enrich your understanding of your customers’ needs!

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