When advising companies and startups about planned new products, we often find ourselves repeating the same basic advice. This motivated us to develop the diagram shown above, which shows

  • customer needs
  • the competition’s product
  • the client’s own product

as well as the various overlaps between them.

Each of the resulting seven areas has its own interpretation with regard to planned or actual product features:

  • Shared must-haves. Not implementing these features would place a supplier at a serious disadvantage, since customers will view them as necessary.
  • Our stupidity. These are the product features a company is planning to implement which are of no interest to the customer and the competition has (quite sensibly) not implemented. These are simply wasteful and should be removed from the task list.
  • Shared stupidity. These are features of both the company’s and the competition’s products which the customer is not interested in. These should also be removed from consideration.
  • Their stupidity. The competition has implemented features which the customer is not interested in and the company is (quite sensibly) not planning to implement.
  • Shared Opportunity. These are features or functions the customer is interested in but cannot currently obtain. The first company to implement them will gain a competitive advantage.
  • Their advantage. Features of the competitor’s product that the customer values and that the company is not considering. Customer segments that place a high value on these features will purchase the competitor’s product.
  • Our advantage. Features of the company’s product that the customer values and that the competition does not offer. The company should concentrate on these, as they represent a USP and can capture the appropriate market segment.

The error we find companies making is planning features in the our stupidity area. This not only diverts resources from other innovation projects but will also generate no revenues when introduced to the market. Approaches such as Customer Outcomes and Lean Startup and our own Discovery-Driven Innovation are designed precisely to prevent this error from occurring.