Innovation + Design

Levitt’s quote is a good reminder that the essential value to our customers and members is not the product or service itself but whether it gets them closer to the outcomes they desire.

Deliver what customers value not what we sell them.

By creating and delivering customer experiences that are personalized to individual needs, are scalable, and can be integrated with each other is the end game.

To do this we need to re-examine how we create and deliver value. This occurs through internal processes that include: operations management, customer management and innovation management.

Operations management includes financial controls, timely reports, cost-effective marketing support, robust feedback mechanisms, and a true service orientation. Customer management includes member customer records management, real-time access to data to acquire or retain new customers or members, the ability to connect members and customers to what they need, data to determine what products to abandon, and the ability to provide levels of personalization.

Operations and customer management are areas that often receive the most attention. However, it is in the area of innovation management that seldom gets the same focus. Innovation management includes: product and portfolio management, product prototyping, co-creation with high customer involvement, and sometimes the creation of emerging business units.

True innovation is radical or transformative (discontinuous). An iterative version of a product is merely incremental such as a new conference or publication on new car models for 2007. A radical innovation would be a virtual conference of 2007 new car models, and a discontinuous innovation would be a web portal where you could design your very own 2007 car model yourself.

Business research shows that organizations who focus solely on “incremental” product or service enhancement cannot stem decline that may exist in their market. According to the London School of Business, most organizations concentrate:

  • 80% of their resources on incremental improvements to existing markets
  • 10% on incremental improvements to new markets
  • 10% on radical innovation to new markets
  • 0% on transformative innovation to new markets

So unless over time you cultivate some form of transformative innovation, your business risks becoming marginalized.

Design is also critical to ensuring that innovation addresses business (viability to you), human (customer desirability), and technical (feasibility) factors.

This section will share methods and innovators who are capturing and retaining essential value in new and effective ways.

  • The Business Innovation Factory – an independent, non-profit organization launched in 2004 to leverage Rhode Island’s size and densely connected networks to create a real world laboratory for testing new ideas for projects that encourage public/private sector partnership
  • Open Source Radio – a conversation, four times a week on the radio and any time you like on the blog designed to invert the traditional relationship between broadcast and the web – a web community that produces a daily hour of radio

  • Customer Experience Mapping – developed by Customer Experiences Inc. provides an excellent approach for designing, measuring and evaluating customer experience across a product or service value chain


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