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Manifest Customer Destiny

Late last year I stumbled upon a thought-provoking ebook from Michael Schrage that has upended how I look at business innovation.

Michael Schrage is a research fellow at the MIT Sloan School Center for Digital Business. His ebook attempts to redefine how companies should approach innovation by focusing on this question: Who do you want your customers to become?

He refers to this question as THE ASK and in the ebook, Who Do you Want your Customers to Become?, he makes the case for why this question is important to focus on because it “offers a lightweight but high-impact methodology for aligning strategic, marketing, brand, and innovation leadership around customer transformation.”

Look at any successful innovation from the Amana Microwave Oven to the Ford Model T to Microsoft Windows XP to the Southwest Airlines business model. These innovations didn’t just transform the companies that introduced them; they transformed the lives of customers who use them.

Schrage writes, “Customers don’t just adopt innovations; they alter them, adapt to them, and are changed by them. Like economic Charles Darwins, successful innovators strive to observe and understand how their customers evolve.”

The key idea behind Schrage’s thinking is: “Successful innovators don’t just ask customers and clients to do something different; they ask them to become someone different.”

I recently spoke at a gathering of Community Managers and Social Media Managers and used Schrage’s thinking as the basis for my talk titled, MANIFEST CUSTOMER DESTINY: Helping Your Best Customers Become Better People.

My hope was to get these marketers to go beyond connecting with their customers on social media to helping their customers become better people.

I’ve recreated the talk as a 13-minute narrated video. Consider this a first look into a topic I plan to explore much deeper in 2014. Enjoy…


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