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Voice of the Customer (VOC)

Voice of the Customer VOC

Voice of the Customer VOCVoice of the Customer, or VOC, is a process for systematically listening to the perceptions, needs, wishes, expectations, and fears of your customer or end-user. We do it to ensure that the new products, processes or services we are developing will truly reflect what they want and need.

This means we’ll be able to expect people will want what we produce, and so buy and use it.

When you listen to the Voice of the Customer, you learn what the market demands are, and can develop new products to meet them.

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The Cone of Uncertainty

The Cone of Uncertainty

The Cone of UncertaintyThe Cone of Uncertainty is a concept from the world of Project Management. But, as an idea, it is so compellingly simple and so widely applicable, that it deserves a place of its own in our Big Ideas series.

So, in this article, we’ll take a look at what the cone of uncertainty is, and how it makes a helpful mental model in many contexts.

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New Product Development – NPD: Something Shiny to Sell

New Product Development - NPD: Something Shiny to Sell

New Product Development - NPD: Something Shiny to SellWe take it for granted when new products appear on the market. Perhaps they were made by elves! Well, they must have been made by someone, who followed a process. And that process was the  New Product Development, or NPD, process.

The New Product Development process is now mature and well understood. There are many ways to articulate it, and none is that different from what mediaeval craftsmen would have used. But it’s still a big idea. And it’s an idea every manager should at least be familiar with.

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Paradigm Shift: A Revolutionary Change in Thinking

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm ShiftSometimes a Big Idea gets inflated beyond its carrying capacity. People latch onto it without fully understanding it. It becomes over-used and, despite its validity, it becomes devalued. Such is the fate of Thomas Kuhn’s idea of the Paradigm Shift.

How many times in your life have you noticed that, somehow, there has been a substantial change in the way you – and others around you – think about something important? It seems to happen more and more often. Is this a real effect or what getting older feels like?

Or is it just because we have a label for these changes? We call them paradigm shifts. In the 1980s we might have called them quantum leaps, with even less justification. No, they are just changes.

So, what then is a paradigm shift, and how do they come about?

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PDCA Cycle: Continuous Improvement with Shewhart and Deming

PDCA Cycle

PDCA CycleThere aren’t many ideas so big that we use them every day – often without thinking. But the PDCA Cycle, Plan-Do-Check-Act, is one.

The PDCA Cycle comes with many names and none. It’s pretty much something humans have been doing since the dawn of time. But that doesn’t diminish the idea.

So, what is the PDCA Cycle, and how has it evolved?

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Flow: The Optimal State for a Human Being

Flow

FlowThe Flow State has been described by the first researcher to study it in depth, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as the optimal state for a human being.

When we are in a flow state, there’s nothing more we want, than to continue doing what we are doing, to completion. So, flow states are great for getting things done.

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Entrepreneurship: Striking out on your own

Entrepreneurship

EntrepreneurshipEntrepreneurship is like starting a journey, where you know something about where you want to get to, and little about how you’ll get there. And you rarely end up quite where you expected.

Yet in many ways, entrepreneurship is the driving force behind a national economy. It’s a renewing agent that creates wealth – the acme of the capitalist system

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Mind Mapping – Getting Ideas onto a Page

Mind Mapping

Mind MappingLike many of our big ideas, mind mapping was not new. It introduced itself to a huge new audience, with whom it made the breakthrough from a niche idea to big idea.

In our case, mind maps were a gift from British educator, author and personality, Tony Buzan. And what a gift they were.

A mind map is a simple tool that helps with four vital tasks for any professional (or student):

  1. making notes
  2. sorting ideas
  3. creative thinking
  4. memory retention

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Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking

Systems ThinkingSystems thinking is a big idea that’s remarkably… simple.

It’s a simple idea about complex phenomena. And the principle virtue of systems thinking is that it reminds us that the real world is far from simple.

Indeed, when we try to apply simple solutions to complex problems, the solution tends to fail: often spectacularly. And it’s systems thinking that points us in the right direction. We need to think about the whole messy, complex, inter-connected system, if we are to have any chance of finding a solution that makes our problem better.

If only politicians could grasp this simple fact.

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Lateral Thinking – How not to think Vertically

Lateral Thinking

Lateral ThinkingSome big ideas have become commonplace, and everyone understands them. Others have become commonplace terms, which  we often misuse. Lateral Thinking is one example of the latter. Yet it’s had a big impact over the last fifty years and will, I suspect, continue to do so over the next fifty.

Lateral Thinking is the brainchild of Maltese thinker and educator, Edward de Bono. It first appeared in his short 1967 book, ‘The Use of Lateral Thinking’. And it’s currently still in print, as ‘Lateral Thinking: An Introduction’ (US|UK). But since then, he’s written a whole library on this and related topics.

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