#InnovatorsMeetup In Review – The 3×5 Voice of the Customer Method

The big take away from this session was simplicity.  Scott Burleson, Sr. Vice President of The AIM Institute, shared an incredible tool to easily gather customer needs. And just as he promised you could do it with a 3×5 index card.

He shared some late night clips from Jimmy Kimmel to demonstrate how customers sometimes don’t notice changes in products. It’s worth a watch if you have 4 minutes.

Scott made a BOLD statement – market research can be over complicated. He believes customer insights can be found by aspiring towards product perfection. A twist on this notion is instead of thinking what you can add, try to help your customer reveal what can be taken away, how can you reduce the friction.  Start first by identifying what “job” the product does for the customer? Create a job statement. Product X (insert SIMPLE job description(Verb, Obvious, Solution-indepent and Easy to understand), EX: A wheel barrow moves stuff. That’s where you start. Then you explore more.We did a simple exercise to demonstrate this thinking. We write down a job we had to do on a 3X5 index card.  I wrote “grow tomatoes.” That was a job I do, but want to do better. (It is the summer in the south after all…who doesn’t want fabulous tomatoes this time of year?). Then my partner asked me, “what are the imperfections getting in the way of you growing tomatoes?”

I said, “having to water when it doesn’t rain.”

The my partner asked, “what else?”

I said, “not getting enough sun.”

The my partner asked, “what else?”

I said, “overgrowing the tomato cage which sometimes breaks limbs because of weight of tomatoes.”
We went on like this for 2 minutes. I had a full list of what was getting in the way of my perfect, prolific rap of fabulous tomatoes.

We noticed by not jumping to a solution we were able to reveal all the things getting in the way of the my job. We built a needs statement with that simple exercise. This IS customer insights. This is the voice of the customer. It’s simple. It’s revealing. And anyone can do it!

Thanks, Scott so much for sharing. What a great tool to add to our tool box!

Join our Carolinas Innovators & Design Thinkers Meetup to experience similar innovation insights and practice real-live-no-jive innovation and design thinking. We meet the second Tuesday every month. We will be partnering with Hopscotch Design Festival next month, followed by adventures doing an Escape room and more.


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K. Melissa Kennedy

Chief Innovation Officer, Founder, Intrapreneur. Entrepreneur. Enthusiastic leader and speaker. Teller of truths at 48 Innovate
I spent many years working for and building successful companies. I parlayed that experience into a unique process for harnessing hidden assets inside organizations and turning them into big-idea-generating, $1-billion-revenue-producing resources. (Spoiler alert: it’s the people.) I'm an internationally acclaimed expert, happy to share the not-so-secrets that have led to impressive outcomes for Fortune 100 corporations, major educational institutions, start-up companies and entrepreneurs. Working with companies like Cisco, Lancope, Arby's, Capitol Broadcasting Company New Media - WRAL, PRSONAS, Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, REVO Communications, Erno Group, Focus Carolina, Madan Global, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, INZONE Brands, Albright Digital, Spring Metrics and NC State Kenan Fellows.

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