Opinion | It’s what you do afterwards that counts | Christina Gerakiteys

For the past four years I have been guest writer at the Front End of Innovation Conference in Boston. I often wonder what changes people make to their businesses, organisations and lives once they leave the confines of a shared space of like-minds. I wondered so much that I made it the topic for my PhD. Here are  highlights from the conference. Can you act on any of them?

Be your own customer. Crucial to innovation and business success are the conversations we have with customers. Talk to people who use the product. Seems ridiculous to write those words yet I have worked with people who make assumptions on behalf of the customer.

Unlearning. Just as important as what we learn, is what we need to unlearn in order to relearn. Ignaz Semmelweiss, who, in 1847, proposed doctors wash their hands to reduce the mortality rate in maternity wards, demanded an unlearning of behaviours. It wasn’t until years after his death that his theory was accepted. Had the doctors been willing to unlearn their schema, that everything had to be proven, countless lives may have been saved.

It baffles me that design thinking is not commonly practiced. Lee Moreau from Continuum walked us through how they improved the airline experience for Southwest customers. They reduced the trivialities of flight travel at Southwest, something that may not suit all travelers but will certainly suit those seeking a faster  travel experience. They did this by walking a mile in Southwest customers’ shoes.

Mind, heart and gut are interrelated. We keep trying to logic our way through human problems when it is our emotional intelligence that we use most of the time. It’s no secret that purchase decisions are often made via the limbic brain and that the larger the purchase, the more we rely on our feelings to make a decision.

Products with purpose. From lingerie offering femininity and dignity to those with incontinence (one in every three women!) to the Gillette Tre, a razor for care givers to use on elderly men who can no longer shave themselves, purpose was behind the ideation and development of each product. And the marketing and promotion.

Companies cannot afford to be stagnant. They should be advancing in two ways, repositioning in order to maximise resilienceand creating a new growth engine, the ‘next best thing’, in their industry.

Christina Gerakiteys is the founder of UtopiaX.