He thinks that good product development is about listening to what customers want and to keep doing it. A lot of businesses get it wrong, however. “They produce something, start selling it and never look back,” he says. This summer, Callaly will launch a range of organic pads, liners and tampons, as customers said that mixing and matching items to suit their menstrual cycle was important.
Solving problems is what business is all about, but people’s needs change, so find out how and why, he adds. “Host focus groups and send handwritten letters; it goes a long way in encouraging people to respond.”
Importantly, communicate why you’re getting in touch. “There’s a difference between just asking for feedback – which customers are inundated by – and asking them to help improve a product or service.”
Be a Yes business
For firms who set aside even a small amount for innovation, Dave Birss suggests ring-fencing 20pc for truly cutting-edge, blue sky projects. “These are things that you’ve never done before,” says the consultant and a featured author in the forthcoming book, Fast Forward Files: Opening Up.
“Bake it into your business now so that when you grow, you don’t develop a culture where endless approvals destroy interesting ideas.”