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Seeing vs. Observing : Sherlock Holmes, Con Artists & Customer Discovery


Understanding your audience is an important part of our daily lives. Certainly it’s critical to know your audience if you are tasked with creating solutions that impact their world. One of the phases of innovation is “Customer Discovery.” During this phase, your goal is to gain a deeper understanding of your audience.  A common mistake is to use this discovery time to sell your idea or convince someone that your solution is the best thing since sliced bread.

A requirement for effective customer discovery is to meet with your audience, in person, to enable you to observe them.  You can learn invaluable information about your audience by observing things such as their environment, their body language, and their vocal tone.  You may even notice a more critical issue that should be addressed prior to the problem that you were planning to solve. Successful customer discovery leads you to observe what’s not being said as well as what is said.

In being blinded by the things we want to be true, we become perfect victims.  

To be effective in performing customer discovery, you must improve your ability to collect the RIGHT information, you must closely observe your surroundings and you must be able understand what you have observed. This podcast, provided by “Between Worlds” is a great resource for understanding why observation is more important than simply seeing. Additionally, a lack of awareness coupled with an urge to be right, will make you vulnerable to failure.

“Maria Konnikova is the New York Times bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant book that draws on the adventures of the fictional detective to illustrate the power of observation and critical thinking. Her latest book, The Confidence Game, explores the flip side of detection, and why humans are so hardwired to believe in con artists and those that would exploit our trust.” In this clip from “Between Worlds” Maria discusses the differences between the way Holmes and Watson see the world, the art of building a memory attic, and how con artists are so adept at manipulating people’s belief systems.

Kishau Rogers

Kishau Rogers is the editor and founder of the bigThinking project. bigThinking is a resource and collaborative innovation center which promotes the principles of systems thinking. Our mission is to empower the next generation of innovators to think bigger, to think better, and to create solutions that make a significant impact in the areas that matter. Kishau Rogers is an award-winning entrepreneur with a deep background in Computer Science, over twenty-five years of experience in the technology industry, and more than 15 years of entrepreneurial leadership. She currently serves as the Founder & CEO of Time Study, Inc., a high-growth startup offering solutions for using machine learning, advanced natural language processing, and data science to automatically tell a story of how enterprise employees spend their time.

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