Archives for posts with tag: problem solving

Do you (and your team) sit around complaining about your customers, clients, peers, (boss?) Complaining about how they don’t know what they really want, need, care about? Stop.

Stop complaining and ask them. Don’t project what you think they want, need, care about based on your wants, needs, cares. Request it from them and listen – even if it is different from what you think it should be.


“If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford

Asking our customers, clients, stakeholders what they want in a new product, service, brand is what we do, right?  I don’t think Mr. Ford was indicating otherwise. His point was that sometimes (many times?) our customers don’t have the creativity, vision, inhibition to articulate how “what they want” actually looks, feels, tastes, smells.

Many times, our job is to take the essence of what our customers are asking for and put it in a whole new package. Something they wouldn’t have thought of — but that they love!

Listen, hear, and deliver something completely original.

I spent over 10 years consulting for a number of companies – some very large, some fairly small.  Early on in my career I would come upon a solution, way of working or creative idea that worked really well at one of my customers.  Being of the consulting mindset I considered it a “best practice” and then tried to apply it everywhere else (gotta hammer and everything looks like a nail.)  I’m sure you can take a good guess how that turned out.

Good ideas that get results are usually successful not just because they are good ideas. Success also depends on time, place and people.

A good idea can be successful in one place and time, but not another. For example, the concept of contact lenses was introduced over 60 years before the technology to produce them was available.  Additionally, the people who are the customer for a good idea have to see a reason to start using, producing, buying the idea. If fashionable eyeglasses were all the rage when contacts were first manufactured then the product would have failed.

The lesson I learned from my consulting days was that I can’t just take a good idea and transplant it from one company to another.  It depends on the “when”, “where”, “who”, and “how.”  Understand your customer, their culture, what they have been successful doing in the past, and what their needs are now and for the future. Then consider what made your good idea good. Tweak it. And move on.