Delve Before You Develop: Considering The Human Element

You’ve got an idea for a great product. So you figure out whether you can build it, how much it would cost, whether there’s a market for it… all the steps that most businesses take. After all, there’s plenty of data out there to help you answer these questions and make the necessary decisions.

Numbers, however, can’t help you with the most important part of your research: What fundamental human need are we addressing? A product that merely considers the “how” and “how much” might sell to a degree. But without considering the human side of demand, that success is likely to be short-lived.

By cultivating a true relationship with your intended customers, you can learn about their desires and pain points—which in turn will help you zero in on the needs your product can fill, so you can create something of real value to them. Have conversations with your customers and listen to what they have to say, and you’ll get valuable insights on what they’re willing to pay for and where new opportunities to serve them may lie.

When you balance this knowledge with the other considerations of price and ability to produce, your efforts are much more likely to provide value to others.

So delve into the details and gain an understanding of that human need you’re trying to fill. Then start the development of your product or process.

About the Authors

Mike Sibley and Katie Davis are passionate about creating thorough and sustainable systems to help organizations become Lean Enterprises. In addition to writing and speaking on Lean Six Sigma, Mike and Katie work directly with an organization’s members to evaluate an existing process and identify solutions that eliminate waste, as well as build efficiency and quality into the process. Mike and Katie have applied these approaches for manufacturing, construction, professional services, and governmental entities.