innovation: Should Customers Have A Role?

Entrepreneur has a great piece on whether customers have a legitimate role in the innovation process.  Customers are important when the conversation is about problems rather than solutions. Because of the fixed mindsets dynamic, when asked for solutions to a given problem, customers typically think of incremental version differences of business as usual, meaning not innovations, especially when we define innovation as surprising the imagination of the market.

When we ask instead what problems they want to solve, we enter the land of novel potentiality. 

When we want their input into (the solution of) better irons they give us what we ask for. When we ask what problems they don't want to have, they say they want a zero-ironing life which could lead to innovations instead of improvements.

Companies that get the deep logic of this realize that and how they might only reach new levels of growth by innovating their own disruptions as they enter into unpredictable spaces.