Book Review: Hidden in Plain Sight part two
In the last section of his book, Strategies for Realizing Customer Advantage, Joachimshtaler turns his attention to marketing strategy, brand strategy and portfolio management and an examination of how to connect and engage with customers. Using examples from BMW, VW and MasterCard, he demonstrates how the consideration of marketing strategy and brand helped reposition these firms in the minds of their prospective customers, and the customers they already had. Much of the first two chapters in this section is interesting, but really targeted to a chief marketing officer who has the capability to rethink branding and customer experience.
Joachimshtaler saves his best chapter for last - Internalizing the Innovation and Growth Agenda. In this chapter he examines the steps Jeffrey Immelt took to change the way GE thought about itself as an innovator. Immelt entered a well-oiled machine that was excellent at execution and wanted to create a firm that excelled at sustained innovation. To that end, he created a number of initiatives. First, the concept of Imagination Breakthroughs. Each business unit leader had to submit ideas for their business unit that could become a new product or service worth at least $100M in organic revenue. This shook up the culture because traditionally, innovation had been the responsibility of the product management team - now more people and a broader perspective were involved, and the stakes are much higher. Second, he tied senior management compensation to the ability to generate and follow up on these Imagination Breakthroughs. Finally, they created the idea of "One GE" - that is, one united face to a customer, regardless of the opportunity or challenge. Then, using the demain-first innovation concept, they worked to get much closer to the customer - using "dreaming" sessions where executives and customers looked at product and service opportunities. Can you imagine Jack Welch in a "dreaming" session?
As I stated earlier, Hidden in Plain Sight is a great book about strategy that uses innovation as an outcome to help a firm differentiate itself through much more detailed understanding of its customers. Hidden in Plain Sight advocates a complete reversal in the way most firms generate ideas and create new products and services - changing the perspective from a highly segmented, quantitative examination of customers and products to a much more deeply understood customer experience which informs marketing and innovation to create products and services that are relevant to customers' expectations and aspirations.
If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of innovation and how it works, this probably isn't the book for you. If you are interested in the work involved to change your product and service development strategy and gain real insights into your customers and what they really want, then this is the book for you. It combines the rationale for making the change, examples of firms that have taken a very different approach to customer experience, and ideas about how to use that new perspective to drive innovation of new products and services.