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Tuesday
Mar012011

Why are there so few “glorious” products? 

A few years ago, I finally pursued a long time ambition to own and ride a motorcycle.  So I signed up for a motorcycle safety course.  On the first day of class, the instructor began by telling us stories of her favorite riding experiences.  This included her description of a “glorious” day of riding.  It was a cool and sunny day with a bright blue sky.  As they left the more congested areas of Massachusetts, it seemed that they had become the exclusive owners of the roads that they were on.  With no one in their way to slow down their brisk pace.  This allowed them to fully enjoy all the twists and turns that the roads had to offer.  After a wonderfully exhausting day of riding, they made their way to a favorite greasy spoon, for some of the best comfort food around.

As she told her story, I was struck by the word “glorious”.  I hear it and words like it so rarely, especially in my professional life.  As a person who invents software products for a living, it made me realize that most products just don’t move people in an emotional way.  

Now this is less about the actual word “glorious”, and more about the strong emotions it represents.  To better appreciate the significance of this, let’s make it a little more personal.  Probe your own memories, and try to remember an event that you would describe as glorious (or some other grand emotion that works for you).  Now take yourself back in time and to that place.  How did you “feel” at the time of that experience?  How intense was that feeling?  Now ask yourself, “Do I really deliver products that invoke this level of emotion?”.  I expect that for most of us, the answer would be no.  Now ask yourself, “If my customers experienced this level of emotion when using my product, how awesome would that be for both them AND myself?”.

Part of the trick is to identify the right target emotions for your customers and product.  It’s certainly not one size fits all.  Excited, relaxed, empowered, comfortable, safe, and confident are just a few emotions we can target.  Companies that identify and achieve the right target emotions can sell product at premium prices, to a loyal and growing customer base, and with envious profitability.  Apple, BMW, and Porsche are some favorite examples.

In this blog, we will discuss a process that will allow us to invent products that connect with customers in this very compelling way.  At the highest level, this process includes:

  • Understanding who our customers are, their goals, needs, setting, constraints, frustrations, and more
  • Defining “absurdly ideal” scenarios to establish project priorities
  • Define more realistic scenarios and requirements
  • Generate and evaluate many ideas to make our scenarios a reality

 

My goal is to write this blog in such a way that the suggestions are actionable and easy to apply in the work that you do.  I also want this to be a great platform for a dialog.  Please comment with your questions, agreement, disagreement, and any other way you wish to express yourself on this subject.

Some of the topics we will cover include:

  • Favorite strategies for commercial success
  • Transforming frustration into empowerment
  • Absurdly Ideal scenarios
  • Brainstorming done right
  • Mind maps
  • “Tuning in” to recognize problems and solutions of interest
  • Using a "Strategic Retreat" to turn a technology into a product
  • Designing product for Viral Adoption

 

I think the next blog post will be on "Frustration". Why is it important? How do we find it? How do we turn it into an opportunity? 

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