To go along with Michael Perman's interview, I thought I'd share a few tools to help you immerse yourself with your customers. Here is the first segment:
- Know the Context of the Situation – So many times when we explore our customers’ opinions – usually through the use of focus groups – we have a difficult time understanding the context of their lives. It is important to immerse yourself in the lives of your customers if you truly want to understand them. Do they watch “Survivor,” take public transportation, go to the ballet? You should, as well.
- Be a Better Listener – Good listening is hard. It’s too easy to have a conversation and listen only for the proper time to add your two cents’ worth. Slow down and really concentrate on what others say. They might be good co-creative participants. Also, remember that listening needs to be practiced with all of your senses; 70 percent of all communication is non-verbal. Such listening will give you more confidence to use your intuition when thinking about innovation.
- Rely on Experience – The only way to become good at immersing yourself in the lives of your customers is to do it. You’ve got to take that first step. Ask the first dumb question. The more experience you have doing so, the easier immersion becomes.
- Get Out Into the Culture – The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art recently installed a Levi’s research report into its permanent collection. Michael frequently takes people from Levi’s over to the museum to check it out. In the process, people get exposed to all kinds of culture. How can expose your team to other cultures that might have a profound influence on their work?