Innovation is not always about the physical things we produce. We can innovate with Empathy.

Sometimes we have to innovate our thinking to get better outcomes. We believe this is exactly the case when it comes to product design and development. There are lots of brilliant people, who have brilliant ideas and make brilliant things. But the reality is that many of those brilliant things are just that, things. They don’t necessarily have a high demand, they don’t fulfill a broad need, they aren’t useful. They were not created with an empathic view of the end user.

This type of innovation can also happen within your company. Someone on the team has this great idea and you spend lots of time, money and effort to produce this new thing. If your markets and customers don’t have a need for this thing or it doesn’t meet their need in the best way, it could be a bust.

So how do you ensure that product and service innovation is successful?

One way is to inject empathy into your design and development models. Companies as big as GE are understanding this and innovating the way they thinking about actually producing new ideas. They are producing minimum prototypes to get testing and feedback from real customers sooner. They are encouraging the generation of lots of ideas to find the ones that actually resonate with their market. Designing your model in such a way to find problems that are really problems for your clients, come up with ideas that truly meet their needs, then allow them to give you feedback to see if your hitting the mark is innovative.

Injecting this sort of empathy can put you leagues ahead of competitors who come up with great ideas in the c suite without being close to the problems and then spend time and money producing the big flop.