Innovation is not just about a good idea; it is a process of managing what can appear to be an army of people over a set amount of time making multiple interconnected decisions. Rather than micromanaging, let the product requirements guide the legions who make the detailed daily trade-offs. Yes, these product requirements emerge from an early research and planning stage that is chaotic. But that is good— for the chaos enables exploration and learning. The more you can learn about your market, the better the framework for your decisions.
Toronto, Canada. Jimmie Spear needed a new truck. His Silverado had lasted eight years, and it was costing him as much to maintain it as his car payments used to cost. His truck was his life, or at least his livelihood. Jimmie worked on independent construction. He worked on somewhat sophisticated construction jobs, building additions and the like. But he mostly worked independently, usually hiring a high – school kid to help him out. He liked the freedom. In the eight years since he bought his truck, lots had changed in his life. He was now married with two kids. His weekends and even some nights were filled with family things, from food shopping to going to the park with the kids and the dog. So his wife was on his case to rethink his truck purchase. She wanted a family car, one that could safely drive the kids around. Jimmie needed a workhorse, but it was more. His truck was him. It was a statement of who he is! He wanted a truck with meat, one that looked like it could handle the tough jobs he gave it. He knew he was pretty hard on the vehicle. Some trucks looked wimpy. They probably were.
Jimmie decided to take the kids out Saturday to look around. He visited GM first and was intrigued by the Chevy Avalanche, which had a rear seat that folded down to increase the truck bed size. It looked great. It could be a two-row family vehicle on weekends and his construction truck on weekdays. He then found the Nissan Titan with its four doors, its full truck bed, and the ability to fold up the rear seats for extra storage space for his tools when the kids were not around. Nissans were hot! The strong front with the extensive use of chrome not only looked great but gave him the reassurance that the truck was made of solid parts. Although the kids had had enough and really wanted to just go home and watch TV, he also stopped by the Ford dealer. The new F-150 was inviting. The truck sure looked tough on the outside, but, if he really wanted to splurge, he could get that cushy leather interior.
It used to be that a truck was a truck was a truck. What amazed Jimmie was the amount of choice he had and the amount of feature comfort he could enjoy in a truck. He could justify the tough-looking exterior with safety and comfort for his family. Who would’ve thought that, with the goal of dragging around a 4×8 sheet of plywood and some tools, there could be this much variation in trucks?