Unmet consumer needs are considered the holy grail of product and service innovation: a mystical, sacred entity with unlimited value and powers for those that know how to tap into it. It would seem that with present day digitalization and social media, it is easier to connect to users everywhere through online surveys, platforms, and data mining technology. Moving from a mass-producing economy to one based on individually tailored products suggests that the gap between consumer needs and producer response are closely aligned. Yet the mystique surrounding unmet user needs remains.
This article is part of the THNK VIEWS series. We bridge theory and practice on organizing imagination and innovation by extracting key implications and offering new insights to innovation practitioners. This article builds on Philippe Duverger’s research Variety is the Spice of Innovation: Mediating Factors in the Service Idea Generation Process.
Duverger’s key findings suggest that:
- Consumers seeking variety are most likely to have the most innovative ideas, but will also switch services easily.
- When combined with enough technical knowledge and resources, these users will be able to create the products and services that will satisfy their unmet needs.
- To secure future business prosperity, greater attention should be given to finding new ways to appeal to these users, and find their unmet consumer needs.
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Clean sheet redesign is the method of rethinking existing businesses from the ground up. For established companies, this is a way to innovate processes by asking the right questions about current practices. For start-ups working on a clean sheet, they can apply similar techniques to disrupt existing models, while taking inspiration from existing success stories from other industries.
The advantages of a clean sheet
Things change, both gradually and inexorably. When you want to change the world, you will have to take advantage of entrenched infrastructures and institutions.
The new breed of low-cost airlines work with a different business model: using one type of airplane and second-tier airports, flying only to profitable segments, and offering slashed prices and no-frills service.
How does clean sheet redesign work in practice?
The team found that they could replace large movers with smaller, niftier ones. Large movers were believed to move more at a time in a batch system.
Examine assumptions: keep asking “why?”
What does clean sheet redesign mean for innovation and innovative start-ups, and how can it play a role in their plans?
“Innovation is often best done with pen and paper, by making a tree diagram of the reasons why things are as they are.”
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There has been a lot of buzz around designing new and innovative business models. But what does it mean to design a new business model? How do you apply design thinking to business model innovation?A lot has been said and written about what design thinking is, so I will not go there. Instead, I will take a typical design thinking process and show you how it can be applied to business model design.
As the design firm IDEO has been one of the early advocates of design thinking, let us use one of their design thinking processes as outlined in the Design Thinking for Educators Handbook.
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