strategy and business

Why your customers should be central to your innovation efforts

There’s a big mistake that a lot of companies make. It’s one that until a few years ago was common in my own organization, and it stems from the worthy goal of boosting innovation. The mistake is adopting what I call the “science fair” mentality: encouraging employees throughout the organization to innovate freely but without much, if any, direct contact with the very customers these innovations are intended for.

Unconstrained innovation may sound exciting, like the sort of thing startups do. But the truth is that successful startups do that, because they know that innovation without a framework rarely leads to business success. It does lead to inventions that, although impressive and creative, ultimately prove impractical or irrelevant for driving business growth.

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