|Co-Innovation is great way to design products.|
We wanted to change the minds of our customers without any disrespect for their practices. So we involved them in our design process right from the design stage. Initially customers were very surprised that we went for a 3 hour workshop with nothing to sell to them and skeleton prototypes conveying our hypothesis. They greeted us with statements like "So you have nothing to sell and you will not have anything to sell for the next one year?". We had to explain to them that we are not from sales and we just wanted to design the product together with them. Many of them indulged us because we had crazy ideas and they were mildly amused about the fact that several people were willing to spend more than a year designing a product that they were not sure will ever be accepted by the market.
After a year and half of interaction, with constant updates to all customers who co-innovated with us, we showed the resulting design to them. To our surprise and delight we heard murmurs like "This is good. Why are we not doing things this way in our company" and "Sure. This does not fit what we do today. But may be what we are doing today need re-examination". When I heard such statements from customers who have been doing things in a certain way for decades, I realized the true potential of co-innovating with customers. It takes months, if not years of working with customers before you can earn their trust and the right to change their mind and the way they do things.
It is not easy. But it is worth the time and energy.
Image from http://www.medad-printing.com