Want to drive killer innovation at your technology company? Well, there are a lot of moves that you'll ultimately need to master to lead the league in that category, but today I'll talk about one that's fundamental and that I know works, from first hand experience. Best thing about it: it's dead simple…
Create the right opportunities to put your geek engineers in front of your customers, especially your best customers.
Pause, while some sales pros among you compose yourselves. You're thinking, "OMG, why would I ever want to do that? Those guys are bound to say something embarrassing, or outright stupid, that will kill my next sale." (Like the unvarnished truth.)
Because they create, literally, the value that your customers buy and that funds your commission.
Because if they hear the raw, unfiltered thoughts of your customers, they'll be that much smarter in designing your next generation product.
Because your customers will be amazed that you did this — since very few, if any, of your competitors do.
Because they'll help you climb the ladder from "supplier" to "trusted adviser / thought leader".
Because they're the smartest guys in your company, and you should leverage their IQ points to best advantage.
Because the ensuing dialogue will often result in your customers telling you exactly what they want from you in the future.
Because your engineers will realize just exactly how painful for your customers it is when your products don't live up to lofty promises.
Because your engineers will be energized to do big things. They, at least the best of them, want to build great products, not just play with neat technology. Great products are those that make a meaningful difference to (important) customers. How do you know that you're working on a "Great Product" if you never talk to the customer?
Above I said, "create the right opportunities…" Sometime soon I'll expand on one way to do just that.