If you have a dream, big idea or breakthrough innovation, the beneficiary(s) ultimately decides if it is a good idea. If your dream is for your daughter (beneficiary) to earn a college degree or for you (beneficiary) to lose 50 pounds, the beneficiary has the final say. If it’s Proctor & Gamble’s (P&G) PhD scientists trying to create a breakthrough innovation in floor cleaning, a grandmother (beneficiary) may know best.
P&G had more PhD scientists, at one time, then any company in the world. The scientists were struggling to create a more effective way to clean floors without causing damage from abrasiveness. To trigger new ideas, P&G hired outside consultants to go into homes and watch people mop their floors.
The homeowners made this more difficult as they would clean their floors before the consultants arrived. One day, a consultant took an aggressive action at the home of a grandmother. While ignoring the voice of his mom inside his head, he walked across the floor with his soiled shoes. The grandmother quickly grabbed a paper towel, wet it and cleaned up the consultants dirty footprints. The grandmother knew best, the consultants left the home with the invention of the Swiffer.
After the lesson from the grandmother, P&G still required engineers, production, marketing and a business model to make their breakthrough innovation happen. While the commercial viability of the Swiffer had yet to be determined, they had compelling reasons to continue development. The beneficiary would experience a quality of life improvement by saving the time by not changing clothes, rinsing and squeezing the mop and filling and emptying the bucket.
To determine if your beneficiary thinks it is a good idea, insight may come from listening, understanding and observing.
Listening – What they’re asking for. People ask for things they are aware of, believe are possible, and think they can afford. When they elaborate on why they ask for something, they offer insight into their decision rational and what’s important to them. This insight is helpful, though it may not identify an underlying unmet need that is not being met. People may not even know there unmet or want to share it.
Understanding – What they want. Our unmet needs can be described as prosperity that we don’t have today, which is different for each of us. Great innovator Steve Jobs didn’t like focus groups as he believe people didn’t always know what they wanted. He thought they had to first experience an innovation to determine their unmet needs. He often paraphrased Henry Ford in saying, “if I asked people what they wanted, they would say a faster horse”.
Observing – What they do. This determines if your idea will induce a behavior change. The Swiffer may be wonderful, though do customers (beneficiaries) abandon the mop for the Swiffer? Your daughter (beneficiary) may appreciate your help, though does she work hard to achieve your dream of her earning a college degree? You (beneficiary) may want to lose the weight, though do you increase activity and avoid certain foods to make it happen?
While more is involved in determining if an idea is a good one, the beneficiary is a good place to start. You do not need any PhD scientists, maybe just a grandmother to determine if your dream, big idea or breakthrough innovation is worth pursuing. Beneficiary insight may offer the inspiration and confidence you need to make almost anything happen.