Getting the “Hole” Picture

As engineers, we are trained to build drills. We work hard to create the best drills, hoping customers will be impressed…. but customers don’t care about drills; what they want are holes.

Sales people are trained to sell holes. Savvy marketers know how to turn drill bits into “hole” messages. I believe engineers would benefit from getting the “hole” picture; and not leave it to sales and marketing to spin a story (after the fact).

For this, we need to empower technologists to have insightful conversations with customers early in the new product development cycle. Engineers are notoriously skilled at solving complex problems. Combine this with an understanding of the “hole” picture, and a greater number of customer-winning products will undoubtedly unfold.

In a recent speech at Stanford Randy Komisar made the comment: “it is not because you can make a dog jump that customers want a jumping dog”. Good point. So let’s work at getting the “hole” picture, and gather rich contextual information around the issues customers face in the process of getting to the holes they need; then back track from there.

In other words, we need to think of ourselves as “hole-enablers” rather than “drill-makers”.


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