Experience Innovation - The Next Generation
By Rob Rush CEO, LRA Worldwide | August 07, 2010
Oh no, not another article on innovation, your brain is screaming from every synapse. Please don't subject me to another rapturous ode to Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton or - gasp - Disney.
Relax. Aside from the fact that there is a certain been-there, done-that feel to recounting the customer experience innovation triumphs of the trio mentioned above, it seems almost counterproductive to try to mimic these three exemplary companies when trying to figure out how best to wire the "innovation" pathway within your own company. They can seem a wee bit...intimidating. When you're trying to teach your four-year old son to ride a bike, you don't attach the training wheels and show him video of Lance Armstrong climbing the Alps. Chances are, your company is strapping on its innovation training wheels and the last thing you need at this time is a ride-along with Mickey Mouse.
My company was lucky enough to participate in a recent study on innovation conducted by Peer Insight, a Washington, DC-based research and consulting firm focused on service innovation and customer experience design. The study was commissioned by the Finnish government to better understand how U.S. companies use innovation to create value for their clients and customers. We were one of the 12 case studies included in the report, with participants ranging from financial service giants such as Bank of America, to major toy manufacturers such as Mattel...to a little ole' consulting company like ours.
While the study yielded a number of findings, there was one somewhat ancillary theme that probably wasn't a key takeaway for Finland, but really resonated with me. In short, innovation is all well and good and necessary, as long as it only enhances your (or your clients) core competency and deliverable. Once you start messing with that core deliverable, then you run the risk of compromising the reasons that your customers and clients are working with you to begin with.
Say, for example, that you run a custom, handmade widget business. Any innovation that helps your customers better find, order, ship, source and utilize your widgets is fantastic. Any innovation that may increase efficiency, output and capacity while somehow compromising the "handmade-ness" of the widget...is self-defeating.
(Yes, I realize I made up a word there. Call it author's license-ness.)