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Start Do You Believe Innovation Has to Occur Naturally?
12 September 2012

Do You Believe Innovation Has to Occur Naturally?

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“I think it is something you can set up an ecosystem to encourage. Obviously hiring smart people, giving enough investment, giving people time and space to play and explore is definitely a way of investing in this idea of innovation, but you have to understand innovation is a long-term thing…

So what you often find is that the innovators are the ones who create the technology, but it takes a designer to understand the impact of that innovation and package it in a way that users actually want.” – Andy Budd

It seems easy to accept that the concept of innovation should be seen as a long-term thing and that time must be the combination of “true” innovations so the “desired” innovation become the success we have seen with some products or even services. We can’t say the same about creative problem solving that has a quite different emergency character. In this sense what users want may be in fact what we seek to create and add value.
But this is not always the case!

What people want is not always what people need! It is very often what people desire, or as Antoine De Saint Exupery said: “The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them.”

That long period referred by Andy Budd is the time required to understand and integrate connections that represent the hidden or not aware needs of consumers or users.

Sometimes to know the opinion of people may not seem to be the more correct attitude to develop a product or service that can be simultaneously innovative and responsive to a real need.

This does not mean that people should give up their tastes or trends or should no longer agree with the ecosystem in which they are inserted. It means that the search to identify the needs must be made, not through GPS but through a compass that gives us the direction to identify opportunities and at the same time the possibility of different approaches.

I think the best way for a company to understand what people want is through a process of openness, not neglecting chances of co-creation and keeping close to the consumers/users.

This way it is possible to discover in consumer behavior, supported by some research, that the vast majority of purchasing decisions are made on an emotional basis and experts (Bruce Lipton) estimate that up to 95% of purchase behavior originated at the subconscious level.

Therefore we need to apply research through observation of people in their environments, to be able to propose to those people the products or services that are missing to them. There is a significant difference between what people need and what they would like to. This means that we will have to find the best ways to put the questions so we can get the best answers.

Some techniques of psychology and anthropology can help us understand how people think filtering what they want to say to us. Analyzing contradictions in what people say, looking at the real life or combining several techniques can give us a framed picture of the real needs of people.

We know that people live in groups, communities or systems and act as units of relationship between themselves. They are not independent units.

There are two kinds of needs which in my opinion should be over worked not to run the risk of being creating dream solutions but with no applicability.

On one hand we do not have articulated needs, that is, those that exist but that users or consumers fail to clearly expose and whose message needs our help to translate into understandable language.

On the other hand, the “hidden needs” that are the kinds of things that people really want, but are unaware or do not feel this need. Those needs only manifest themselves in plans for future (building scenarios) and are often a result of a change in the environment or in the evolutionary process of each one of them.

Innovating to meet the needs of the people is an uphill task!

José Baldaia

Management and Innovation Consultant (Portugal)

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