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    when asked about whether customers influences his designs for automobiles, it has been claimed that henry ford said that if he had asked his customers what they wanted, they would have asked for what?

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    Why Henry Ford's Most Famous Quote Is Dead Wrong

    If Ford had asked people what they wanted, would they really have said 'faster horses?'

    Why Henry Ford's Most Famous Quote Is Dead Wrong

    If Ford had asked people what they wanted, would they really have said 'faster horses?'

    By Carol Roth March 13, 2017

    Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

    Henry Ford was one of the world’s great innovators and a quotable gentleman at that, particularly in the realms of business and innovation. Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Ford is this: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

    American inventor and industrialist Henry Ford.

    While there's no real proof Ford ever said this, the words are still applied to him as proof that true innovation is done without customer input. But, even if one of the most successful businessmen in American history had said it, it wouldn't make the maxim any more applicable.

    In fact, customers would probably have told Ford exactly what they wanted -- specifically, a faster mode of transportation. They might not have mentioned the need for a combustion engine, but that's part of the art and science of understanding customer feedback.

    While your customers may not know the form factors available to them (that’s where you as a business can innovate), they often understand their problems, or can, at minimum, communicate enough information so that you can use customer feedback appropriately to grow your business. Here’s how.

    Related: A History of Henry Ford

    Ask good questions.

    Often, customers know what they want, but don’t know how to articulate it. So, ask specific questions that allow you to glean insights to use for your innovation. For example, using multiple-choice questions (with an option for "other" and space to write in an answer) is a good way to survey your customers. Studies show that giving a customer too many choices often nets you poor feedback, but it's also important to give them the opportunity to bring up something you haven't anticipated.

    You should also ask about their personal or business problems. If you are selling and innovating with technology for small businesses, don’t ask features-based questions, because most small business customers aren’t thinking about technology features. They are trying to make more money, save time, save costs, etc. So, ask questions around their problems and then bridge the gap with your innovation -- much like Ford did.

    Related: 5 Things Real Leaders Do Every Day, According to Henry Ford

    Study behavior and numbers.

    Numbers and behavior are more reliable feedback indicators than words alone. If your customers say they love a product in green, but they keep buying blue, stick with the blue. Be relentless in studying your data and behaviors to make sure that their words match their actions.

    Beware of the vocal minority.

    While it’s important to look at feedback, including from online channels and customer service, you need to delve into who is giving that feedback. For example, if you are getting posts about a problem, make it's a real problem. If it doesn't exist, ignore it.

    The same goes for wants. A handful of people may be squeaky wheels about a personal want, but that doesn’t mean the broader base of customers wants it, so do more research.

    Also, check for minions. Are the same group of people always asking for something or complaining together? If so, they may be just a co-dependent group of trolls. If you are seeing different customers giving feedback and input around the same issues, that is more likely to be reliable than many posts or asks from the same group of people. The exception to this is when the group is considered influential among your customer base.

    It's usually a good trick to solicit your feedback through private polls instead of public ones so your community isn’t swayed by the vocal minority.

    Related: 7 Common Customer Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

    Sample a relevant group.

    Reach out to your best existing and desired target customers to get a broader scope of feedback. If you aren’t sure what your customers think, ask a meaningful number of them. Shockingly, customers are more likely to give you feedback if you actually ask them (and if they feel like offering it will ultimately benefit them). But, make sure that they are truly buyers -- if responders aren't going to buy your product, their responses don't help you or them.

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    Henry Ford, Innovation, and That “Faster Horse” Quote

    “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” We’ve all been in conversations on the topics of creativity and innovation when Henry Ford’s most famous adage is (excuse the pun) trotted out, usually accompanied by a knowing smirk and air of self-evidence. Battle lines are quickly drawn. One side […]

    Innovation

    Henry Ford, Innovation, and That “Faster Horse” Quote

    “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” We’ve all been in conversations on the topics of creativity and innovation when Henry Ford’s most famous adage is (excuse the pun) trotted out, usually accompanied by a knowing smirk and air of self-evidence. Battle lines are quickly drawn. One side […]

    by Patrick Vlaskovits by Patrick Vlaskovits August 29, 2011 Tweet Post Share Save Print

    “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

    We’ve all been in conversations on the topics of creativity and innovation when Henry Ford’s most famous adage is (excuse the pun) trotted out, usually accompanied by a knowing smirk and air of self-evidence. Battle lines are quickly drawn. One side vehemently argues the merits of innovating vis-à-vis customer feedback; the other argues that true innovation is created by singularly gifted visionaries who ignore customer input and instead manufacture innovation based solely on their prophetic vision for a better future.

    Having grown weary of both sides of the debate, I was curious; did Ford utter those words? And what did they mean for the early days of the Ford Motor Company, and by extension, for entrepreneurs looking to learn about how to innovate?

    Let me dispel with the suspense; it doesn’t appear that Henry Ford ever actually uttered this famous and polarizing phrase. We have no evidence that Ford ever said those words. (My methodology in determining the non-existence of this quote is a footnote to this blog post.)

    However, even if Ford didn’t verbalize his thoughts on customers’ ostensible inability to communicate their unmet needs for innovative products — history indicates that Henry Ford most certainly did think along those lines — and his tone-deafness to customers’ needs (explicit or implicit), had a very costly and negative impact on the Ford Motor Company’s investors, employees, and customers.

    Henry Ford’s genius lay not in inventing the assembly line, interchangeable parts, or the automobile (he didn’t invent any of them). Instead, his initial advantage came from his creation of a virtuous circle that underpinned his vision for the first durable mass-market automobile. He adapted the moving assembly line process for the manufacture of automobiles, which allowed him to manufacture, market and sell the Model T at a significantly lower price than his competition, enabling the creation of a new and rapidly growing market.

    But in doing so, Henry Ford froze the design of the Model T. Freezing the design of the Model T catalyzed the speed of this virtuous circle, allowing him to better refine the moving assembly line process, which in turn allowed him to cut costs further, lower prices even further, and drive the growth of Ford Motor Company from 10,000 cars manufactured in 1908 to 472,350 cars in 1915 to 933,720 cars in 1920.

    As long as the Model T’s design remained ahead of the competition, as long as it competed on price, and as long as the market’s needs remained static, this was a successful and disruptive innovation strategy, since Ford had no compelling reason to innovate in any other sphere other than cost- and price-reduction.

    But everything changed with the onset of the innovations introduced by General Motors in the 1920s, which took the direct opposite of Henry Ford’s tack of “Any color … so long as it is black” and is best summed up by Alfred Sloan’s consumer-research driven “A Car for Every Purse and Purpose,” which aimed to produce cars for distinct market segments aided by:

    Installment selling Used car trade-ins Closed car models

    Annual model changes

    In light of these, Ford persevered stubbornly with his cycle (now no longer disruptive nor virtuous) and as such, Ford’s response to these new innovations can only be described as tepid at best. The Ford Motor Company did introduce a closed-body Model T, and did so without significantly altering its open-body design, which most observers at the time felt amounted to a reluctant afterthought.

    In 1921, the Ford Motor Company sold about 2/3 of all the cars built in the U.S. By 1926, this share had fallen to approximately 1/3. And in 1927, when Ford belatedly responded (at tremendous financial cost and internal strife) to changes in the market’s tastes and competitive innovation by shutting down production temporarily to re-tool his factories and bring the Model A to the market, that percentage fell to about 15%.

    It was clear what people wanted, and it wasn’t faster horses. It was better cars, with better financing options. I attribute Ford’s failure to respond in a timely and effective manner to competitive innovation in the marketplace to an attitude summed up in a quote he never uttered.

    Now you might think that the lesson to be learned from Henry Ford’s faster horses is that when pursuing innovation, it is perilous to ignore customers. However, that is most decidedly NOT the point of this post.

    Yes, some customers in certain types of businesses are quite capable of verbalizing precisely what sort of innovative product one could build and sell them. And of course, customers in other types of businesses are wholly incapable of verbalizing, with any sort of fidelity whatsoever, what they need and why they need it.

    Source : hbr.org

    Henry Ford's Customers Didn't Want A Faster Horse

    Henry Ford’s famous quote serves as a battle cry to many a visionary entrepreneur

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    HENRY FORD'S CUSTOMERS DIDN'T WANT A FASTER HORSE

    By:Steve GlaveskionEnterprise Innovation

    ‍ ‍ ‍

    “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”

    We have all heard Henry Ford’s famous quote many times before and it serves as a battle cry to many a visionary entrepreneur who swears against asking customers what they want.

    Steve Jobs had a reputation for, amongst other things, his stance against customer input. “It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them”.

    Granted, many people didn’t know they wanted an iPad until Apple showed them and focus groups are frought with inherent weakness. There is often a gap between what focus group participants say and do, small samples can’t be generalised, participants have varying motivations, introverts lose their voice and group leaders can influence the direction of discussions.

    So What If You’re Not Blessed With Steve Jobs’ Vision?

    Few are blessed with the vision of Steve Jobs and most entrepreneurs must instead rely on the ability to identify problems and find cheap and quick ways to test and iterate on the underlying assumptions in order to get to product market fit before the well runs dry.

    It is these teachings, popularized by lean startup protagonists Steve Blank and Eric Ries, that the entrepreneurs of today have come to swear by. These entrepreneurs don’t start off with a grand vision. Oftentimes they start off with what they think is a problem and what they think a solution to that problem might be and iterate from there.

    So, back to those faster horses. What did it really mean if customers had said that they wanted faster horses?

    While it is easy to interpret this quote as a reason to never speak to your customers or target market again (!), closer inspection reveals something a lot more profound, particularly for innovators and product managers.

    Ultimately, Henry Ford did give his customers exactly what they wanted.

    What purpose would a faster horse have served? Faster transportation. That is essentially what they were crying out for.

    The underlying message was that they wanted a faster method of getting from A to B in order to spend more time doing other things popular in the 1900s such aswatching baseball, football and playing games (evidently, the more things change the more they stay the same).

    Faster transportation was essentially their ‘job to be done’ and getting to this answer might have been as simple as asking why they wanted a faster horse.

    Knowing what the underlying problem and need is gives entrepreneurs a much higher chance of success in developing a solution that fills that need. It sounds simple but given that more than 90% of startups fail, perhaps the concept isn’t widely acknowledged, understood or adopted.

    Uncovering Jobs To Be Done

    Decorated innovation academic Clayton Christensen has argued that both people and customers have ‘jobs’ that arise regularly and need to get done. Furthermore, marketing professor Theodore Levitt is quoted as saying “people don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”

    Essentially, when developing products you should ask your customers what they want and use that as a starting point to discover the underlying pain points and jobs to be done. Don’t build the product the customer wants, build the solution to their underlying problem, something that helps them get their job done.

    The Innovator’s Method by academics Nathan Furr and Jeff Dyer outlines tools and techniques to integrate lean startup, design thinking and agile into the large and often slow moving, large wasting enterprise.

    Furr and Dyer also remind us that these ‘jobs to be done’ can be functional, social, emotional or a combination thereof.

    A Gucci handbag, while serving some functional purpose, is more about social status and feeling good than it is about having somewhere to keep your purse and car keys.

    So how does one identify jobs to be done?

    1. Question, Observe, Network and Experiment

    According to The Innovator’s Method, we must first question, observe, network and experiment in order to identify some potential problems.

    Source : www.collectivecampus.io

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