We are considering getting some work done on our house and in order to help us make any work run smoothly, we brought in a pro; an Interior Designer. What was interesting is that the first thing she did was asked us what we liked and disliked about the current situation. She also had a long questionnaire that she went through with us in detail to get a feeling for how we live in the space. She also saw how we demonstrated a few problems with the layouts. After that exercise, she gave us magazines to go through to identify ideas, and prototypes that we found interesting.
It seems to me that this is an interesting way to approach product development in other fields: there is a process to understand how customers are using products; and there is then some building blocks brought in to help ground the discussion as well as show what is possible. This is something that we at Brandsential also try to do.
To really bring value to the area of product development in organizations we bring in the best and brightest in an organization to determine what is possible then mash that up with what we find with customer discovery sessions. What is does is allow a company to use its existing assets to better address the deep customer needs that drive successful products.