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Any organization or an individual that provides products or services always asks what is it the potential or existing customer wants. Many approaches exist trying to answer this question. Some of which include asking the client what they what, what are they missing, what issues they have, etc. All of these questions are targeted to understand the problems that target clients have, so we can create a product or service to solve these problems. The main issue with such an approach is that clients, for the most part, don’t really know what they want, let alone, need.


We are offering a bit different, more practical concept.

Let’s ask our clients “what keeps them busy?”. What do they do on the action level?
For example, if the clients are drivers, things that keep them busy are holding the steering wheel, shifting gears, watching for road hazards, collecting payment, fueling, etc.

Once we have a collection of their activities, we can think about how to remove these activities (aka functions) from these clients. That’s right! We need to prevent people from performing their functions to make them happy – ultimately to give them what they need.

To reinforce it, we can use an example of a gearbox. Not that long ago, we were driving the car and manually shifting the gears. At some point, car manufacturers started replacing manual transmissions with automatic ones. They prevented the drivers from shifting the gears manually – that function was removed. And, by the way, no one asked for it!

Using Action Preventing Action

In this article, we will not dig too much into any more details of why to use APA, when is it useful and what are the use cases. We will concentrate on the step-by-step instructions and mechanism of how to use the tool.

First, we assume that you already know how to start using a new tool. For more information about that visit Creative Tools article. Action Preventing Action is one of the available tools in the PRIZ Innovation Platform.

Action Preventing Action tool selector

Once the tool is created, you will be redirected to the tool itself.

Define and Understand the target customer

This is the first and extremely important step in the process. You and your team must define who that customer you are targeting. What is their day-to-day look like and what are the products and services they provide to their clients.

APA customer details

Once you finished describing the target customer, you can click NEXT to move to the next step – identify actions. Don’t worry, you can always come back to this screen in case you decide to add or edit anything.

Defining Actions

This step allows you and your team to define the actual actions of the customer. This is where you need to answer the question: “What keeps you/them busy?”. You can get the answers by brainstorming or directly from the client.

APA - define customer actions

To add an action, click on + ADD ACTION button. This will open a modal window with a single field form.

Add action modal form

To create, click on CREAT ACTION. The new action will be added to the list. It is encouraged to have many actions, this way you can explore more opportunities to improve your customers’ lives. All the actions are presented on the same page as a list. For convenience, every action has a status attached to it. Just created action will be in status ready to process. Once you start working on an action, the status will become In Progress. And, of course, when done with action, the status will be Done.

To start working on the action, click on the action itself. You will be redirected to Find Customer Needs page for respective action.

Find Customer Needs

This phase helps you to figure out what the target customer of your choice needs and consists of 3 fields. The whole concept here is for you and the team to describe 3 things:

  1. Purpose of the action – why the customer performs the action
  2. Action Preventing Action – what can be done to prevent the action
  3. Customer needs – this is the how. What should we provide the customer to achieve the preventing action?

Find customer needs

Let’s clarify by example and analyze the action: “Shifts gears”

  1. Action purpose: to maintain the correct momentum and keep the engine at the top performance
  2. Action Preventing Action:

    • Option A: shift the gears automatically without the driver’s intervention.
    • Option B: remove the need for gears

  3. Customer needs:

APA - customer needs identified

When you are done with the action, click I AM DONE. This will mark the action as DONE. Then you can return back to the list of actions and work on the next in the list.

List of actions

That is basically it. The report will include the detailed result of this analysis (as any other tool).

APA report

Organize your work with APA, find the customer needs, and make them happier.

Contact us with any questions.

in Creative Tools
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