Toothbrushes, TiVo, and Twitter: Designing Great Relationships

Toothbrushes, TiVo, and Twitter: Designing Great Relationships

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In olden days, way back before the Industrial Revolution, stuff was created in an intimate setting. There was someone who needed something and there was someone who made it for them. In every case, there existed a relationship between maker and customer.

Today the practice of design is spreading virulently, infecting the business management world among other things. And of course it should. Our modern era of mass production requires enormous organizations to replicate the relationship of a designer artisan with her customer. If that organization doesn’t know how to listen to or inspire the customer, the relationship will die.

Tivo LogoUnderstanding the actions, anatomies and aspirations of humans is foundational for creating better products, better relationships.

Case in point is the Oral-B CrossAction toothbrush. It’s a manual toothbrush that was born out of intense observation of how people hold a brush and resulted in a game changer: a brush that people love because of its comfort and effectiveness, used to perform a job that is about taking care of oneself. Home run.

TiVo came into being with a similar focus on the customer. The product was a revolution when it arrived because it resisted the Silicon Valley urge to be a technology product. It focused instead on television viewing as an experience and delivered my TV on my schedule. More importantly, because the relationship that TiVo designed for customers is about fetching entertainment easily, they are quickly becoming a platform for delivering internet-based content on my terms.

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