Until not too long ago, organizations believed that there was a set of tried-and-true practices for creating value for their customers. As markets moved more slowly, and value wasn’t so tied to speed and customer experience, these practices seemed to produce successful outcomes, so there was really no incentive to deviate from them; why fix what isn’t perceived to be broken? But, today’s customers want and expect products to be delivered to them faster than ever, and more personalized to their needs than ever before. Continuing to draw on these same old practices, even though they may have worked in the past, is not a guaranteed model for future success.
Enterprises today need to embrace what we call a ‘discovery mindset’ – a new way of thinking about not just customers and markets, but the context around them and the way that work is actually done internally. Instead of applying the old ways of working over and over again, organizations need to shake things up and turn to a discovery-focused, agile approach that emphasizes continuous learning – and, in turn, produces more intuitive, context-sensitive, personalized solutions.
But, even a more free-flowing discovery mindset needs a structure to work in. To that end, VFQ has drawn up what we consider three essential practices that are the foundation of a discovery mindset that breeds more unique, customer-centric ideas, and helps you discover the best way to bring them to life.
Many enterprises are not used to experimenting at scale to find new solutions, preferring to instead stick with the same rigorous internal processes. Experiments tend to exist just in R&D departments, rather than more broadly across an organization. But, think about it: your customers don’t stick to any kind of rigorous model. Customers and markets are constantly evolving, changing directions, acting on whims that become trends and then ultimately fizzle out. Context is constantly changing, and if enterprises want to stay ahead of the curve, they need to constantly learn. That means embracing a culture of experimentation, measurement and adjusting mindsets where experiments can be leveraged as tools for learning.
Businesses grow by delivering value to their customers. Creating that value means needing to understand customers – specifically, understanding what drives them to make certain decisions. This is the basis of our second essential practice: value propositions.
Defining the value of your opportunities and ideas, and aligning them to a goal, is essential for creating internal mission statements that organizations can follow to clearly delineate customers’ decision-making patterns. These should break down the user’s needs; how the organization is fulfilling those needs; what benefits your solution has to offer; and, how it compares to competitors’ solutions. If you can check off these boxes internally, you’re on the right track to understanding your customers and delivering valuable solutions that meet their needs.
Visualizing is massively important in the world of work today. Wherever you find misalignment between departments or people you usually find something that hasn’t been made explicit or visible – this might be the customer, the goal, the constraints or the work. Visualizing these things helps create alignment, unity and productive work. Look at how software developers visualize their work with Kanban boards or how UX designers use customer personas – or, looking outside the software space, how architects visualize buildings as illustrations and blueprints. When you visualize what you’re working on, and lay it out all clearly, you make it that much easier to pinpoint what you’ve done, what you need to do and what may be impeding your work from progressing.
Does your organization foster an experimental spirit? How do you analyze customers’ decision-making habits? How does visualization factor into your day-to-day work?
These three practices are just the tip of the iceberg for developing a discovery mindset. Register for our VFQ Foundations course today to dig deeper into these and learn about how you can apply them to your organization, in order to cultivate a true discovery mindset.