Fuzzy to Focus

One challenge of the front end of innovation is translating customer pain into product requirements with enough specificity so design teams know what they are working towards, but without limiting their ability to find truly innovative solutions and apply new technologies. Typical approaches tend to be too vague or too prescriptive, and hence are not popular in engineering and design oriented companies.

TNS teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to apply our Matrix approach to the very wild and ill-formed market of education technology. We developed a number of specific requirements and unmet needs of mainstream teachers for products to help them leverage data to drive their instruction.

What we learned is fascinating for anyone who is interested in all the changes swirling through US education. It is also a great example of how to clearly define unmet needs in an ill-defined market while allowing developers free range to apply novel solutions.

Lynne Thomson, VP, Innovation and Product Development at TNS, and Kai Kung, Program Officer, US K-12 Education at BMGF, previewed the work at the Front End of Innovation conference in Boston on May 19th, ahead of the general release. The work is now available to everyone at Teachers Know Best. The approach has application for many complex markets, and brings the fuzzy front end of innovation into focus. 

To download a copy of Lynne and Kai’s presentation, click here.