When we design innovative solutions we often have to deal with two types of end-user requirements:
Obvious (explicit) requirements: clearly articulated improvements, amendments or extensions. For example, a faster horse, a cheaper car, more memory, more screens, louder speakers, and so on.
Latent requirements: unmet needs that people find difficult to express, write down or articulate.
Most people, when invited to contribute to the “innovation” of a product or service, end up simply describing an evolution of something familiar – their contribution to the process is limited by what they know. A conversation about the “possible” is difficult enough; and a structured conversation about the “impossible” is, well, nearly impossible. Researchers, designers and other “proxies” intervene to develop an understanding of what people really need. It is this understanding that drives innovation; not the users themselves.