“Let’s not re-invent the wheel” is a sound suggestion, right? The message being: don’t mess with it if it works. I think the phrase is misused in that people think that there’s no room for improvement on the wheel. I would like to take the time to whole-heartedly disagree. Let’s take a journey in our imaginations back to the cave men. We picture a man with a wheel made of… rock. Flash-forward to the pioneers. Their wagon wheels were made of wood and metal. Keep progressing in your mind and think of every kind of wheel you can think of… there have been numerous iterations on a solid idea. Somewhere in there, someone added tires to the wheels and even today, we see improvements in design and technology of these essential items.
I direct this rant specifically to those that are tasked with creating endless improvement options. Whether you’re a product manager like me, or you’re expertise lies in contact routing, customer service, or some other realm, this idea applies to you. This does not mean that you’re working with a sub-par product, process, or idea. It simply means that you should take the time to consider the possibilities now that all the groundwork has been laid. In the product world, we think in terms of the basics (that which is expected) being fulfilled and now it’s time to get creative and figure out what’s really going to tickle them (your customer) pink.
Finding things that will delight your customer is a creative thought process that combines what you know of your customer base, marketplace, and old fashioned ingenuity. I encourage you to examine your products and processes regularly with the mindset that there has to be something that hasn’t been thought of yet and see what you come up with. If you're not sure where to start, I suggest that you talk to your customers, utilize your customer feedback program, and have brainstorming sessions. These kinds of activities will really get your creative juices flowing and help you identify meaningful areas for improvement. You might surprise yourself (and your boss) with how you can re-invent the wheel.