Michael Porter Image via Wikipedia
Every course and every workshop on entrepreneurship I teach I explain four techniques to understand the customer as a means to develop a business concept:
- Zaltman's seven metaphors
- The abundance scarcity paradigm
- Relax the assumption
- The Nintendo approach
(The links reference the SF post on each theme.)
Much modern thinking on strategy is based on Michael Porter's ground breaking work. Porter's work is fundamentally an economic analysis of value creation, with perhaps the critical insight being in how Porter defines competition.
In a new HBR article "The New Psychology of Strategic Leadership" HBS Professor Giovanni Gavetti argues that the role of the of the strategist is to see the opportunities that rivals overlook. To see such opportunities requires the Nintendo perspective--"we compete for people's spare time"-- a more insightful understanding of the customer, which was discussed in this post from SF November 2008. I think Gavetti could have focused more on understanding the customer as a means to finding the overlooked opportunities. The link to Gavetti's HBR summary is here.
Of course Marcell Prevost probably summarized the whole article best when he said "you have to see the invisible to do the impossible".