Identifying Unmet Needs in a Digital Age
July 01, 2022
By Jean-Louis Barsoux, Michael Wade, and Cyril Bouquet,
Innovation is all about finding and filling people’s unmet needs. But even innovators and organizations renowned for their scanning capabilities often have trouble perceiving and correctly interpreting those needs. Drawing on their work as researchers, teachers, and consultants, the authors outline a four-part framework to help innovators diversify how and where they look. It involves two main strategies: improving your vision (seeing in greater detail) and challenging your vision (looking at people other than mainstream users). Within each you can adopt a narrow focus or take a wider view. You can zoom in on individual mainstream users and their everyday experiences (what the authors call a microscope strategy) or pull back to discover patterns in their aggregate behavior (a panorama strategy). Likewise, you can take a look at users outside your core (a telescope strategy) or seek a broader view of the patterns they exhibit as a group (a kaleidoscope strategy). For each of the framework’s four parts, the authors describe how digital technologies can augment more-traditional ways of looking. Used together, the approaches they present will enable entrepreneurs to look further afield and on a larger scale than ever before.