“We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.” says Eric Ries (entrepreneur and author of The Lean Startup). Steve Jobs said similar things.

Somehow, it’s already an old story. The “age of the customer” has been proclaimed years ago. Many companies and teams have adopted a focus on customer needs, have become more customer centric. However, a customer-first strategy remains a top priority for numerous companies. Many find it hard to get it right, feel falling short, feel they are failing. Why is it so hard?

Lesson #1: Know Your Customer

To integrate customer focus companies have started to work with tools such as personas and customer journey maps. The customer has been put at the center of the strategy. But in many cases results are not as impressive as expected. At the same time there are startups and digital leaders that keep overtaking these established companies and they are said to be using the same methods. What’s different?

Lesson #2: Find Real Problems

Companies can work with Design Thinking methods to increase efficiency or optimize EXISTING services. For example, a customer journey map will allow to identify weak spots across all touchpoints in an end-to-end experience. Areas for improvement can be prioritized and converted into projects.

But if a company wants to create NEW products or services, it’s essential to look at customer problems. To gain an in depth understanding of opportunities for improvement, not by asking people what they need or think what they should want. It’s about going out and seeing what customers want. At JumpNext we also say it’s essential “to get out of the building” to immerse into the world of the customer and find REAL problems that the company might want to solve. Startups and digital leaders often have this approach in their DNA. And they have something else.

Lesson #3: The missing puzzle piece

Some established companies have already applied lean experimentation, design thinking and agile development. They are focusing on REAL problems of their customers. But they still feel something is holding them back, feel something is not yet right. A recent article in Havard Business Review talks about the missing piece: Managers have to think with a mindset of a refounder. “Refounders are leaders who, despite not having started the company, think with the mindset of a founder. They do not focus their energies on incremental growth through endless optimization, but instead look to leverage their company’s assets to build new offerings, move into new markets, and create next-generation solutions.”.

Embrace a digital world’s mindset

At JumpNext we totally agree. The mindset will dramatically impact the results of a Design Thinking exercise or any innovation initiative. And this is true, whether the objective is to optimize the EXISTING or to create the NEW. Our objective is to inspire teams to embrace the digital and entrepreneurial mindset when working with methods and tools like Design Thinking and Lean Experimentation. Do you want to learn more how to inspire your team to embrace a digital mindset, methods and tools? Click here.