Though business leaders say they want innovation, the vast majority hate the concept of creativity.
But as much as us innovators are fed up with this, the truth is that it isn’t the executives fault because people are wired to reject uncertainty; no matter how smart they appear to be. Fears and biases stand in the way of a boss that talks a good talk, but doesn’t walk.
But, there is a flip side to all of this: business-as-usual, no matter how predictable it may feel, is littered with biases too.
Here are five assumptions businesses make about the people they serve:
- Human beings, first and foremost, are individual, thinking beings
- We are fully aware of our intentions
- Our choices are informed by weighing different options against each other
- We know what we want and need
- We are the same, regardless of the social context or mood we are in
You might be well versed in the inherent biases we all carry with us at all times, but this is important because the idea that big data will eliminate biases is a fallacy…
Data AND empathy + more empathy
For all the talk there is about big data and its power in identifying predictable patterns of behavior, humans are unpredictable. Mindlessness and laziness may lead you to believe that looking at some fancy graphs will make the hard word of getting out of the building irrelevant, but the truth is that data is not an alternative to empathy.
Of all the innovation techniques available to an innovation practitioner, entrepreneur, marketer or business leader none is more important than getting out on the field and observing people in their domains.
A time tested approach to overcoming the above assumptions, and understanding the unmet needs of customers, is to go out and live in their shoes; to become them. But as much a we rave about its usefulness, ethnography is rarely done by businesses because it is much easier, and comfortable, to sit inside a conference room and make up ideas of what might work; granted they have a point of view. But even this isn’t the case, as most businesses are fixated with the copy-to-benefit syndrome and the expectation that riches will soon follow.
Still, our job as innovators is to make people want to become a better version of themselves, not simply give them what they want. And by going out to meet our customers where they live, not only will we test our own assumptions about what they might want, like and need; but we’ll also make a connection with them.
So, let’s remember to check our assumptions before we assume that we know what anyone wants.
Next week I’ll show you a technique you can use with your team to target assumptions you might be missing!
Bottom line: Always keep in mind that you might be making assumptions, most likely you are. And, to bust those assumptions, of all the innovation techniques available to an innovation practitioner, entrepreneur, marketer or business leader none is more important than getting out on the field and observing people in their domains.