Customer value

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“You can never be too rich or too thin.” This quote, usually attributed to Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, has a great hold on the popular imagination. Might it be relevant to the pursuit of lean activities in the business world?

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Radically rethinking your core business may be necessary at some point, whether you’re an established company in a mature market or a relatively new company in an emerging market, but better not to be in a position that requires rethinking in the first place. Here are three essentials we’ve found for keeping your product portfolio fresh and, ideally, a step ahead—rather than a step or two behind—current consumer preferences.

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When times get tough, a slapdash approach to product development leaves you exposed. You need to be sure you're investing the right amount in the right projects. Here are three practices, which, if you have been executing them faithfully, will ensure you're fully covered as the tide ebbs.

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We talk a lot about "creating value for the customer" when designing and developing products. It occurred to me recently that we don't often step back and ask what makes a product or service valuable in the first place? Although the scope of this question is enormous and much falls outside of the area of R&D, the answers have interesting implications for product developers.

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A friend's seventh-grade son (let's call him Rob) was stumped for weeks by his school's annual "Invention Fair." The fair organizers did a great job of attempting to foster creativity among the young participants, offering a one-page handout that advised interviewing family members and friends about problems they encounter in everyday life, then brainstorming possible solutions and sketching prototypes.

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