Innovation, 21 Questions

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1. Which customers use or purchase our product in the most unusual way?

2. Do any customers need vastly more or less sales and service attention than most?

3. For which customer are the support costs (order entry, tracking, customer-specific design) either unusually low or high?

4. Could we still meet the needs of a significant subset of customers if we stripped 25% of the hard or soft costs out of our products?

5. Who spends at least 50% of what our product costs to adapt it to their specific needs?

6. Who uses our product in ways we never expected or intended?

7. Who uses our product in surprisingly large quantities?

8. Who else is dealing with the same generic problem as we are but for an entirely different reason. How have they addressed it?

9. What major breakthroughs in efficiency or effectiveness have we made in our business that could be applied in another industry?

10. What information about customer and product use is created as a by-product of our business that could be the key to radically improving the economics of another business

11. What’s the biggest hassle of purchasing or using our product?

12. What are some examples of ad hoc modifications that customer have made to our product?

13. For which current customers is our product least suited?

14. Which customers does the industry prefer not to serve and why?

15. Which customers could be major users if only we could remove one specific barrier?

16. How would we do things differently if we had perfect information about our buyers, usage, distribution channels etc.?

17. How would our product change if it were tailored for every customer?

18. Which technologies embedded in our product have changed the most since the product was last redesigned?

19. Which technologies underlying our production processes have changed the most since we last rebuilt our manufacturing and distribution systems?

20. Which customers’ needs are shifting most rapidly? What will they be in five years?

21. For what particular usage occasions is our product least suited?

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