About this Episode

Steve shares how to drive innovation using the power of strategic customer insights. He reminds us that learning from customers is “messy” because we are complex beings. In order to go deep while interviewing customers, you need to clarify what is uncomfortable for you versus what is uncomfortable for customers, and not to confuse the two. His provocation, “No One Cares,” highlights the risk of magnifying the significance of our solutions in a customer’s life and missing the opportunity to focus on things that customers care about.


About our Guest

Steve is Principal at Portigal Consulting. He helps companies to think and act strategically while innovating with user insights. His work has informed the development of medical information systems, professional audio gear, design systems, videoconferencing technology, and music streaming services. He is the author of several books including, Interviewing Users and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories. Steve is an accomplished presenter who speaks about culture, innovation, and design at companies and conferences across the globe.


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Highlights from Steve’s session

1:36 – Brief summary of Steve’s work and career

3:27 – Examining our privilege during this crisis

4:46 – How a box of old magazines nurtured Steve’s curiosity

8:20 –  “No one cares” – Common mistakes product leaders and designers make when creating solutions

12:26 – Implications of solving for the local maximum

13: 20 – Moving the Needle to drive impact with your customers

15:49 – “A bug & a feature” – Steve’s war story

22:44 – Overcoming your discomfort to learn from your customers

26:55 – Amazing moment of cinema – looking for cues to facilitate deeper understanding of customer needs

31:06 – Inquiry techniques, performance art, and persistence

33:23 – Telling your customer story

39:58 – How to avoid the local maximum

45:01 – Finding a connection between being a foodie and research

51:50 – Unusual thing on Steve’s desk (Spoiler alert – he shares his podcast setup)