My friend Joe Hallinan has just come out with a new book Why We Make Mistakes, and he has a related Op-Ed piece in the New York Times this past Sunday. He talks about how fresh eyes bring really do see things that others more familiar with the material miss.

In the Op-Ed piece he provides some great examples of how experts failed to see glaring errors that were in the public domain for years and yet, they were eventually identified by novices. This included a first grader who noticed “that a popular library book depicted a meat-eating dinosaur as an herbivore.” You can read The Young And The Perceptive here.

Joe’s writing made me think about the value that consultants and customer research bring to a business. Both bring fresh eyes to a company’s opportunities and challenges – a perspective that is from the outside in. A good consultant comes into the business, digs around and and ideally proposes new ways of doing things using the company’s same “raw materials” like products, customers, infrastructure, etc. The other tool, research, can provide a whole new perspective on the company and its products because it’s through the customer’s eyes.

Both approaches, when used thoughtfully and with concrete objectives, can help breathe new life into company goals, strategies and tactics, whether marketing-related or otherwise.