Recently, I listened to two different business-oriented podcasts on happiness. The first one discussed happiness as a form of contentment, while the second one addressed how we can better manage our time in exchange for happiness. Working more hours was not an element of happiness (of course) yet working better and providing for others through our work did lead to greater degrees of happiness, according to these experts.
Moreover, happiness is a part of our work as new product development practitioners and project managers. Our new product designs are successful when the features and attributes product feelings of happiness in our customers. And with the wealth of our society today at large, we are often seeking happiness as consumers more than we desire simple, functional solutions.
What is Happiness?
Dictionary.com defines happiness as “the state of being happy,” and happy is defined as “delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.” This implies that happiness is a transitory mood as much as it is a continuous state of mind. I feel happy when I learn new tools for my favorite hobby, and I feel happy when I’m on vacation with my husband.
I prefer the term content over happy. Dictionary.com defines contentment as “satisfaction, ease of mind”. This definition feels more long-term and deep to the soul. Contentment may be reflected as a sense of happiness and joy, a feeling that others can see and know that you are satisfied with your life circumstances.
Each of us has our own definition of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction. We know when we have these feelings, whether they are in-the-moment or are deep and in our souls. And, if you’re like most human beings, you want more happiness, deeper contentment, and greater satisfaction.
The Role of Innovators
As innovators and new product development practitioners, our role is to bring products and services to people so they can increase their happiness. This might be done by simplifying their lives, minimizing steps to complete a task, or bringing leisure to their lives. Understanding our customers’ motivation is paramount in designing and developing satisfying new products and services.
For example, innovations that decrease the time consumers spend doing household chores can free their time to pursue activities that bring them happiness and contentment. Products and service like flushable toilet cleaning pads, home grocery delivery, and robot vacuums all help us accomplish dreaded tasks quickly and easily. Then, we can invest our time in more satisfying activities.
Innovators can identify new product features and services by observing customers. Observation and ethnographic research are important tools for new product development practitioners to fully understand customer needs. Interviewing consumers during or after task completion can help identify their pain points. For instance, a person would express a pain point of taking a dripping toilet brush or rag to a storage area after scrubbing the commode. The flushable toilet pads eliminate that pain point for customers. Minimizing both the time and mess involved in an undesirable, but necessary, chore can increase a consumer’s happiness.
You can start to brainstorm ideas for products and services by asking customers what makes them happy and what tasks they really dread. On what tasks do they spend their time when they’d really rather be doing something else? What are chores that have to done on the weekend when they’d rather spend time with family and friends? Answers to these questions can guide you and provide insight to identifying valuable customer pain points. Then, you can begin to design products and services to address these pain points and usage issues. Innovation must start with the problem first!
Increasing Happiness with Innovation
Not all innovations automatically increase our happiness. New product developers must watch out in designing products with lots of features and products that are all-encompassing solutions. Too many features and options can make a product or service too complicated and many people will choose to continue with their current solution rather than spend time learning how to use a new product. It is frustrating to exchange precious time to master a product with many features when the consumer only needs a few, basic functions.
As we consider our own happiness and contentment, we can also consider what makes our customers happy and satisfied. I think this is what makes innovation such an engaging and dynamic career path. We get to help others save time and solve problems, and in doing so, we find self-satisfaction and contentment.
If you want to learn more about designing and building products and services for happy customers, please join me in an innovation best practices workshop. Prepare for your New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification with self-study, facilitated online, or classroom courses. You will immediately impact the success of your innovation efforts by iden3tifying strategies and tools to bring happiness to your customers. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-280-8717 for more information on innovation, project management, and leadership training or coaching. I love helping individuals, teams, and organizations achieve their highest innovation goals!
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