Let Others Own the Idea
Design Thinking is the hotness these days. It suggests that to develop a product or service, it is first necessary to identify a problem to be solved. This first stage is called empathy, and during this stage the designer observes, interacts, and immerses herself in the experience of the user to understand their experience.
The CFA Program, and other credentialing programs, do this through a process called Practice Analysis to assess what critical knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) and core competencies are needed for success in the industry. The reason candidates sign up for a credentialing program is to enhance their job opportunities. We can't help them do that unless we keep constantly abreast of what employers need.
While it is best practice to engage customers at the earliest stage, giving them ownership of the idea can also work much later in the process - at the point of sale. Consider this quote from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Isn't it bad judgment to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people? Isn't it wiser to make suggestions - and let the other person think out the conclusion?
Isn't it wiser to make suggestions... sounds almost like hypnotism. A key element of hypnosis is to plant a suggestion in someone's mind, and associate it with a trigger in hopes of encouraging a desired behavior at that point in time. To work, the subject must have a desire to engage in that behavior. The suggestion merely ties it in with the trigger so that the behavior is enacted subconsciously rather than consciously. The idea is to short-circuit the thinking process and all of the criticisms and temptations that can result and derail the desired behavior. Influence guru Robert Cialdini gives an example in Pre-suasion. People were more likely to subscribe to cable television if they were asked to "imagine the benefits" rather than being told specific benefits.
To succeed, it is critical for the suggested behavior to be something that the subconscious mind accepts. If it goes against core values, it will not work. In the influence case, it is not so much seeking the customers opinion on how to create the product as it is finding out which elements of the product resonate with the customer.
Carnegie gives an example of putting it to a good use that benefits both parties. A new manager joined a poorly motivated team. He asked them to explain exactly what they expected from him, and then asked them what he should expect from them if they delivered. By having the staff set the expectations, he said they created a moral bargain under which they were more motivated to perform.
If the idea of subconscious influence sounds a bit shady, it is probably because it can certainly be used in nefarious ways. In her book The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova quotes Victor Lustig's "First Commandment of the Con Man" - Be a patient listener (it is this, not talking, that gets a con man his coups.)
However, the fact that an innocent tool can be put to an illegitimate use does not negate its usefulness in ethical situations. Listening to customers, and trying to solve their problems, is a perfectly ethical course of action. And when products are designed with the customer in mind, it is only proper to sell the same benefits that were derived from that listening. By giving your negotiating partner ownership of the idea, you can go far.