Episode #65 Jonathan Cagan: Jonathan Cagan and Peter Boatwright

Medium

33voices interviews Jonathan Cagan


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Jonathan Cagan

Author, Product Development Expert View Full Profile

Built To Love

 

I’m really, excited to have this opportunity to talk with you guys this morning about something, as I mentioned to you both, that has really inspired me.

As someone who has come more from the corporate perspective, emotion has long been the lever that drives all human beings. Yet, I see that it’s largely been ignored in boardrooms. Whenever I have been involved in boardrooms talking about product development or this whole notion of innovation, rarely do I hear anybody talk about emotion. And then I get the opportunity to look at your book and I start to get really excited because that’s what resonates with me.

So my question to you initially is, are you guys starting to see a shift in that? Specifically in corporate boardrooms where maybe one day emotion is going to be alongside, how do we make the performance of our products better and faster?

I think the shift that we’re observing right now is a shift in interest. People are starting to ask questions about how do you do this. Metrics is an issue that actually brought us to writing this book in the first place because executives are recognizing people are driven by emotion both at a point of purchase but also from their pleasure and enjoyment of using a product. If that is a big part of the experience of a product, how do you measure that so you could make sure that you build the right thing?

I think there is an interesting issue in management and that there are managers that get it. They see that emotions are really important and as you said, certain companies in the boardroom, that’s the case. They embrace it and you can see that in their products. But there are a lot of people out there; they’re trying to figure it out. What’s going on here? Why is this important? Is this something that’s profitable? Does it really matter?

That was part of why we wrote the book as well. But it’s also part of the momentum in terms of what you’re talking about, in terms of the shift that we think is hopefully going to start to happen more and more, and that people recognize that emotion is critical to the long term success of their product.

Peter, how do you stimulate that emotion? How do you start that conversation with a corporation or a business that’s interested in starting to think about this?

I know that you guys outlined a terrific process in your book but let’s just talk about conversation starters. I belong to a lot of think tanks, mastermind groups that I participate in primarily for entrepreneurial companies. Again, we talk about innovation a lot but it doesn’t seem to be triggered by this emotional context.

So if you were sitting in one of those mastermind groups with us and you wanted us to start to shift our thinking towards this whole notion of emotion that we all know drives us, where do we start?

The first thing is to help people at least get the importance of emotion with a few examples. One extreme example of a product is music. I mean, music is a hundred percent emotion. We divide up things in emotion versus function. Function is the part of getting things done; the features, the function, the technology. Emotion is the intangible experience part, also leading to benefits that people enjoy. Music is an extreme product. It’s a hundred percent in the intangible experience part of emotion. There is one example. Then, pointing out that pretty much all products and services are some mixture of the emotional side and the functional side.

So we start asking people to think about products that they love. Each person really has one product that they greatly enjoy. And you start asking them why and push them. The first thing that many people think about is the rationale side because it accomplishes certain tasks. They might be thinking of their iPhone - “It gets my email done. It’s easy to navigate the web.” Some of these features.

But then you start comparing it to the next best product and pure function - take their iPhone, and a lot of smart phones, a lot of Droid based phones that do roughly the same task. So the passion comes from something beyond the function. I think people immediately recognize that with some of the examples from their own lives.