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Want to Innovate? Pursue Your Customer’s Happiness


“Impossible is only a word.” That inspiring quote from Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre was one of my favorite moments of the 2012 Fast Company Innovation Uncensored conference in San Francisco. And this quote comes from a man who has a clown on his direct staff who pops into his meetings to remind him not to be too serious. That is awesome!

There was an impressive list of speakers at the Fast Company conference. One in particular that stood out was Jennifer Aaker, General Atlantic professor of marketing at Stanford University. She presented on the Power of Happiness. She talked about the role of happiness in our lives and work and offered up four principles to consider when designing for happiness:

1) Design for flexibility (The meaning of happiness shifts.)
2) Design for meaningfulness (What’s the higher purpose?)
3) Design for moments (How are you creating small moments of delight?)
4) Design for stories (Make your customer the hero, not your brand.)

At Intuit, we are in the pursuit of delighting our customers – exceeding their expectations in ways that they couldn’t imagine. Now, Aaker has given me even more to think about. What if we were focused on helping our customers in pursuit of their happiness? Helping small business owners be happy and hopeful and confident in their decisions. Helping tax payers be happy with the tax refunds they’re getting. Helping people be happy with the way they spend and save their money.

Aaker described the power of shifting the storyline so that customers are the hero, not the company. And by doing that, we create more meaningfulness in our personal work to serve our customers. Now that’s an idea worth exploring.

By Suzanne Pellican
Suzanne Pellican is a Director in the Design Innovation Group at Intuit. She leads the team building Design for Delight capability across the company, including over 200 Innovation Catalysts. When not working, you can find her with her three young kids and husband, Bob.

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