‘How has your innovation made your customers more valuable?’

‘How has your innovation made your customers more valuable?’

How would you answer this? For many of us, it’s a tough one, simply because the answer often won’t reveal what we silently hope for.

This question is about the essence of innovation. Getting this answer right puts you on a steady path to become remarkable in your category.

Let me unpack the question: First of all, it’s about your customers, and it’s about value. But it’s about more than that: It’s about the value that makes your customers more valuable – to their customers, their investors, their shareholders, and their employees. Once this happens, you’re providing your customers with a position of advantage.

Too often we release the next version and label it ‘innovation,’ where we know deep in our hearts, it’s not. What we release is good stuff, we’ve listened to our customers, we remove some of the functional gaps, and fix a range of usability issues. But that doesn’t make it innovation, let alone make your customers more valuable.

To understand what makes our customers more valuable, we have to dig deep into what drives our customers: What do they aim to become? What are their aspirations – and why are these aspirations so vital to them? What value will they unlock if they get closer to that aspiration – or even achieve it all together?

Once you ‘get’ that, then you have the fuel to inspire your product strategy and connect every feature to the big picture. That’s where you can challenge your roadmap with effect and select the 10 top features from the backlog of 200. That’s where you can have a relevant discussion on how you can solve a particular challenge: Which approach has the most significant effect on the value of your customer. And why solving it this way, and not that way, will make a substantial difference. You will see it puts everything in context.