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Why Focus Groups Kill Innovation

Here at sparka we know we’re a little different to the rest of the mainstream new product development industry – we’re out to prove it to the world. In traditional businesses we see the traditional approach to developing new products and services all the time. And the go to to test and validate new ideas or concepts is typically the Focus Group.

Here is a great article by  who explains the ‘designers’ view of what focus groups can offer as opposed to the design method practiced by him and here at spark

Why Focus Groups Kill Innovation, From The Designer Behind Swiffer

Think about it: How many great ideas have you had sitting around a table? If you are like most people I know, not many. Yet, time after time, companies looking for a winning idea gather a group of people around a table to ask them what they would like. Other times, companies may actually develop innovative ideas–but then their impulse is to convene a focus group to critique them and, more often than not, undermine them.

In my 40 years working in design and innovation, alongside some of the most brilliant minds in the business, I have never seen innovation come out of a focus group. Let me put it more strongly: Focus groups kill innovation. That’s both because of what they do and what they don’t do.

As Steve Jobs famously asserted, true innovation comes from recognizing an unmet need and designing a creative way to fill it. But focus groups can’t identify those needs for the simple reason that most people don’t know what they are missing until they experience it. A focus group can work in adding incremental improvements to an already existing product or service. But for truly game-changing ideas, they are more likely to cast doubt and skepticism upon them just because they are unfamiliar.

I strongly recommend continuing to read the article here (its just a little long)


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