Voice of Customer (VoC) – Tells the Tale – Part 2


‘What is a ‘Spinach helpful tip’? – When a friend tells you what you don’t know – especially when you don’t know it!


How many projects do you currently have open? How many projects are sacred cows going through “hollow gates” and no one knows how they even got started? Or projects slipping through the “gate without teeth” enjoying the ride as the proverbial can keeps getting kicked down the road?

The importance of using VoC (Voice of Customer) techniques and disciplines to give the data and information you need to put teeth into your Gates in your project management and product development process. In my last article written by Dr. Robert G. Cooper and Angelika Dreher, ‘VOICE-OF-CUSTOMER METHODS: WHAT IS THE BEST SOURCE OF NEW-PRODUCT IDEAS?’ , in the article the authors expanded upon ‘idea management’ process as the critical steps guiding the internal processes within an organization whereby they identify, evaluate (screening system) and determine resource allocation moving a project through the Stage Gate process.

What I wanted to explore today was how to use VoC to put teeth into your Go / No Go decision Gates creating an innovation funnel into the decision. In marketing we should be doing A/B testing, lead user analysis pioneered by Von Hippel back in the 1980’s, Focus Groups, or other VoC techniques like customer visit teams where we are Camping-out with Customers. Focusing on the VoC allows us to answer innovation question, how unique, how valuable is this project so we have data and information to populate the Stage Gate decision model and determine the projects viability and value. This determination then forces the team to write a check and close “hollow gates”. The rubber meets the road when we are forced to answer questions to fund a project or continue to provide funds needed to move a project forward – this all is done at the expense of other projects and programs creating a true Go/Kill gate.

Q: Are you using VoC in your organization during project management, and if so what are you using in your organization today?

Q: Do you have an established idea management system in place? What do you decision gates look like?

What is a ‘Spinach helpful tip’? Have you ever walked around with something in your teeth, and no one tells you. A real friend takes you to the side and tells you. It may be embarrassing at first but not as bad as finding out at the end of the day when it is too late to do anything about it. Especially if you are trying to create a positive brand image and lead your organization to success!

Best regards,

Chris Marshall

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