Last week it was announced that in a very aggressive bid, Netflix grabbed the production and distribution rights for an original movie starring 8-time Grammy winner Rihanna, and Academy-award winning actress Lupita Nyong'o.

Acclaimed director Ava DuVernay will direct the feature, and the screenplay will be written by Issa Rae, creator and writer of the HBO hit series Insecure.

This project is shaping up to be a powerhouse collaboration as each of these players have large followings in their own right.

But what is most significant about this story, is the way it came to be. It was the collective brainchild of the Internet.

When Twitter speaks, it pays to listen

Back in 2014, a photo of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong'o sitting next to each other at a fashion show was posted on a Tumblr page. The original poster captioned the photo with this:

"They look like they're in a heist movie with Rihanna as the tough-as-nails leader/master thief and Lupita as the genius computer hacker."

Not much came of the post, until about a month ago when the photo resurfaced on Twitter. Fans then started building on the movie idea and tweeting at the stars asking them to make it happen.

First, they got buy-in from Lupita Nyong'o and Rihanna. Then the Twitterverse turned their attention to who they wanted to write and direct the film. The pinged Ava Duvearnay, who said she was in, and then threw the ball over to Issa Rae who gave a cheerful thumbs up too.

And just like that, the star-studded crew was assembled, both in front of and behind the camera. And it was entirely crowdsourced by fans on Twitter.

Netflix officially sealed the deal during negotiations at the Cannes Film Festival.

Why your customers always need to have a seat at the ideation table

Many companies spend a lot of time wracking their brains trying to figure out different strategies and tactics to grow their businesses.

You don't have to take on the full weight of that burden.

Spend enough time talking to your customers, listening to them, and observing them and they will tell you one way or another exactly what they want from you.

Sometimes they will tell you directly, and your job, is to simply give it to them.

That is precisely what Netflix and the acclaimed artists are doing with this movie.

But there are plenty of times when your customers won't be able to effectively articulate what they want and need from you. In those instances, it'll be up to you to study their behavior and get familiar enough with their problem to uncover an idea that may be an optimal solution to solve it.

This may come in the form of complaints on social media, discussions they have with a customer service representative, or even with the questions they frequently ask you. It can also come from insights you glean from how and when they use your products and others in the market.

When you pay close enough attention, you can pick up all the clues no matter how subtle they may be.

The success of your business isn't a factor of solely how smart you are, or how much top-talent you can assemble in a room. Plenty of talented people created this disaster.

The businesses that serve their customers the best are the ones that win. And the smart way to do that is to make sure you develop a kind of intimacy with them that enables you to know what they need, what they want, and when they have an idea that is magical.

And then, you've got to fight to deliver it to them.

Published on: May 31, 2017