Does good new product development lead to a loss of self-awareness?

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In new product design, we aim to remove pain from the customer’s life in order to create value for the customer. The customer pays for that value, thus making it a product that will sell. Could the efficient removal of pain from the customer’s life lead to an increased loss of self-awareness for the customer? Through the use of an example I will state my point.

I was launched upon this train of thought when I started my Alexander Technique work.

The Alexander technique, named after Frederick Matthias Alexander, teach people how to stop using unnecessary levels of muscular and mental tension during their everyday activities. It is an educational process rather than a relaxation technique or form of exercise. Most other methods take it for granted that ‘one’s awareness of oneself’ is accurate, whereas Alexander realized that a person who had been using himself wrongly for a long time could not trust his feelings (sensory appreciation) in carrying out any activity. Practitioners say that such problems are often caused by repeated misuse of the body over a long period of time, for example, by standing or sitting with one’s weight unevenly distributed, holding one’s head incorrectly, or walking or running inefficiently. The purpose of the Alexander technique is to help people unlearn maladaptive physical habits and return to a balanced state of rest

and poise in which the body is well-aligned.

My background

I help people and businesses discover and accelerate opportunities and the most well known tools I use are the business model canvas, lean startup and co-creation. I help them turn these opportunities into new products. The methods focus on identifying customer problems (pains) and then crafting a solution to fix those problems (pain removal). Alexander Osterwalder uses Pains, Gains and Jobs as part of his value proposition canvas to develop a good value proposition for the customer.The jobs aspect of Alexander’s value proposition canvas comes from Clayton Christensen and his Jobs to be done approach with his example of “People hire milkshakes”:

Example of a loss of self-awareness due to good new product development

Let’s take the high-end office chair as an example. It is designed to give you the needed back and posture support so that you are comfortable throughout the day – thus without any pain.

Abdication of awareness?

When I use that well designed chair, I do not have to focus on the correct posture, since the chair does that for me. It removes the effort of having to focus on maintaining a good posture. It removes my awareness of keeping a good posture while sitting. If I use the office chair for a long enough period, I will lose that awareness of good posture. Thus, when I sit on another chair that does not provide the posture support given by my office chair, I will not maintain the correct posture because of the loss of awareness of maintaining a good posture.

That could possibly lead to new pains (physical in nature) which would result in the creation of new products to address those pains. The new products to address those pains might not even be in the seating category, but be in the medical field.

That then creates a cycle of continuous pain and product creation due to a loss of awareness, eventually resulting in an acceleration of the process as awareness becomes less and less. The only real awareness benefactor in this process is the actual product designer.

No awareness, no problems?

The awareness of the customer creates the realisation of the initial pain, which then leads to the new product designer creating a new product to address that pain. If we are faced with a reduction in awareness, will this then lead to a non-problem solving society?

Removal or education?

Should new product development then remove pain or rather educate the customer about the pain so that the customer can address the pain as best possible within their own context? One approach could be that new products remove pain as well as educate the user by increasing their awareness of the problem. That would lead to a deeper understanding of the pain by the customer which would lead to better feedback to the product designer making products more and more relevant to the customer’s context.

Either way, we deliver the value the client needs and reap the profits to support a business.


I openly admit, this is a serious oversimplification of a business process. I believe it is a point we could debate to get feedback and views from others because it might lead to a better understanding of customers and how we address pains in their lives. Just maybe it can change new product development thinking.

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