If you are working on product design in its life cycle, perhaps you know how challenging it is to be creative in order to stay ahead of competition. You hire students from fine arts, freelancers, brain storming experts, brand evangelists, creative consultants, technology futurists, engineers, professors – just to name a few. Who else is left? The most important one: your customers!
If you look back at the innovative products, you will probably find that the source was the input from its customers. Well, not all of us equally understand how to “listen” to customers’ voice, that would be altogether a different art (or science?). You do not need days and weeks of training sessions, nor do you need certificates, diplomas, or accolades to master this. All we need is to train our eyes, ears, and brain to see, listen, and think differently from the majority. The same concept given by a customer may just fly by one’s ear without getting into one’s brain, while someone else might pick that idea with zeal as one finds a big clue for creativity in it. Of course, a few modifications in customers’ concepts would be possible to make it commercially viable, however, the source is still the customer.
I will conclude with the story of “Band Aid”. The story goes back to 1921, when Josephine Dickson, wife of Earl Dickson (a supplier to Johnson & Johnson), accidentally had minor cuts while she worked in the kitchen. She wanted a solution that would cover her cuts, at the same time she would be able to continue doing household choirs. Earle Dickson took a piece of gauze and put it to the center of a piece of tape, and affixed that on minor wounds. It would have been a trifle household trick in the eyes of the majority, whereas Dickson’s boss, James Johnson, smelled a huge market in it. Johnson found Dickson’s idea interesting and started producing Band-Aid. This is now a globally leading brand in its category.