And these are all the other settings on the washing machine that I don’t use…
This washing machine does not solve my problem completely, it adds to it with unneccessary settings that get in the way of cleaning my clothes.
The problem isn’t “featureitis“, that’s just the symptom, the problem is the thinking that produced the washing machine.
The organisation that made my washing machine thought what matters to me is “more features are better” …and they thought wrong.
I want “easier” not “more features“.
Adding to the “more features” dimension is a simple task for a company that makes washing machines. They are the experts in washing machines, they know more than anybody else what they can add.
Making things “easier” though is much more of a task. A washing machine company does not naturally specialise in “easier“. This is an extra thing they need to learn and become experts in.
This is the difference between a customer focused organisation and a product focused organisation.
Product focused is where they plan, make and produce from the inside of the organisation, using their technical knowledge they produce things for the outside.
It looks at the world and acts on it from the “inside-out”.
Customer focused is where they learn what matters to the customer, what problem the customer is trying to solve and they work backwards from there to design and deliver their service to meet that.
It looks at the world and acts on it from the “outside-in“.
Some people look down on taking the outside-in perspective. They misunderstand it as slavishly following what people already want and get, rather than innovating and giving them something new and better, using the expertise of the organisation. You may have heard the pretend Henry Ford quote used in this context…
“If I’d have asked people what they wanted, I’d have given them faster horses”
This supposes that taking an outside-in perspective is about asking the customer what they want. It isn’t, that’s not customer research, it’s just being lazy. It also supposes that “what people want” is a faster horse rather than a faster way to travel. This is a classic example of taking a product focused approach (a faster horse), rather than a customer focused approach (a faster way to travel).
Outside-in is about understanding the customer, not just asking them a lazy question. It is the job of the organisation to do the understanding, not the customer to tell them.
Taking the outside-in perspective isn’t about abandoning your organisation’s skills and expertise. It is about using them effectively to give the customer what they need and didn’t know they wanted.
In the case of my washing machine it would give me something like an iPad. Something I “already know how to use” without puzzling over symbols and an instruction booklet.
The hard stuff should be hidden from the user, the clever expertise of the organisation should be hidden under the hood making things work telepathically, it shouldn’t be the stuff the user has to battle through to get what they need.