Honda Shogo: How Co-Creation Leads to Innovative Solutions

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When I think of Honda, I think of the Helpful Honda commercials and the Random Acts of Helpfulness. I’m sure Honda is OK with me making that connection.

So, it stuck with me – and I’ve been meaning to write about this since I saw it – when I saw a commercial before this past Christmas about the Honda Shogo. According to the press release

Developed in-house by Honda engineers, Shogo is an electric ride-on vehicle specifically designed to navigate hospital hallways to transport children. It is equipped with features and elements to help bring joy to young patients as they continue on their road to recovery.

The vehicle, which is currently being used in the local children’s hospital (CHOC) here in Orange County, California, was built to help ease some of the stress and anxiety of both kids and their parents during hospitalizations. Another proof point that play and laughter help make for a better experience for kids. And the response has been positive, bringing delight and joy to the kids (and, by extension, the parents).

As I read about – and listened to – stories about Shogo, I was pleased to find out that Honda engineers didn’t just design this vehicle unilaterally and then take it to a hospital to try it out. They worked closely with hospital staff (and tested with kids) to ensure that the needs of the hospital and the children were taken into account in the design. “Every element of Shogo was designed to accommodate different needs of young children, making it as easy as possible to get in and out, simple to drive, and for the entire experience to leave them a bit happier.”

This takes me back to the lessons learned by Doug Dietz when he designed the MRI machine: don’t forget about the customer when you’re designing your products. Put the customer first. The results are shockingly different when you do that!

Shogo was designed with child-friendly seating and steering, cup holders, a horn, a toy bucket, a holder for a customizable license plate, an IV pole holder, and pushbar controls for caregivers to push their children, if needed. Because they tested it in the hospital, with staff and children, it’s built for a great experience. And the kids love it. Check out those smiles!

I’ll wrap up this post with some content from a previous post about being product-centric vs. customer-centric. Honda is a great example of a brand that puts customers at the heart of its design work and does the work to counter obstacles that threaten to ensure a poor experience for customers.

Product-centric organizations focus on building and bringing products to the market rather than focusing on the customers that purchase their products. They develop new products using the latest tools, technology, and processes without consideration for the customer. Product-centric companies are defined by the products they develop, and those products may or may not meet customers’ needs. In other words, they find customers for their products rather than products for their customers. They aren’t looking to solve problems or add value, they are looking to extend their product reach to anyone and everyone.

In customer-centric organizations, the customer is at the heart of everything a company does. No discussions, decisions, or designs happen without bringing the customer voice into it. Without asking: How will this impact the customer? How will it make her feel? How will it help her solve her problem or do the job she’s trying to do? How will it add value for her? It means the business does all of these things with the customer’s best interests in mind.

Product-centric decisions are based on Product teams or company executives thinking they know what’s best for customers. On the other hand, customer-centric decisions are made based what they hear from and learn about their customers.

You can never go wrong by informing your product development and your customer experience strategy with ongoing customer feedback – or by putting the customer at the center of all of your product or business decisions.

The goal of a designer is to listen, observe, understand, sympathize, empathize, synthesize, and glean insights that enable him or her to “make the invisible visible.” ~ Hillman Curtis

Image courtesy of UX Indonesia on Unsplash.

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