Seamless experience - innovation holy grail
But when people talk about innovation they talk too expansively and without good definitions. Innovation always reverts to whatever Apple did recently, whatever cool new technology or product someone produced. We need to move beyond talking about innovation to actually doing more of it, and when we do it we need to do it with purpose and intent. But beyond that we need to move beyond this narrow definition of innovation - a new product or service - to a much more expansive definition of innovation possibilities.
Innovators are like Astronauts
Right now we innovators are like astronauts who become fixated on going to the moon, when with a little more imagination and effort we could go to Mars, or Venus, or the asteroid belt. We've allowed ourselves to become too enraptured, too fascinated by the possibility of new things, and not aware of or even talking about the possibility of new experiences or services or channels or business models. There are several problems with the fixation of the near and the safe:
- It narrows the scope of exploration and discovery
- It suggests specific tools and outcomes and overlooks or ignores others
- It focuses far too much effort on far too little potential gain
Setting our targets too low
To me, we are doing this all wrong. We are talking about easily achievable, tangible outcomes when we should be considering what the end objective is: what customers want and are willing to pay for - even to switch providers to obtain. And in a nutshell that isn't a discrete product. Customers will change for a dynamic, interesting and complete customer experience that improves their lives, solves their challenges or gives them new capabilities they didn't have before. When we innovate we should always be asking ourselves: what is the ultimate customer experience our customers need and we can create? We can leverage techniques like "jobs to be done" but as I've written before I believe this should be superseded by "experiences to be had". The best technical innovation does not win customers if it does not fit within their expectation or work in their environment or force them to change. The sooner we start talking about how to deliver an incredible customer experience, in any project or in any setting, the sooner our innovation programs will generate the kind of benefit everyone needs.
We've lost the thread
Focusing too much on Apple's iPhone, or Tesla's car misses the point. We don't buy the iPhone or the car, we are buying the totality of the solution and experience. Tesla and Apple are just especially adroit and combining these into one package. Sure the iPhone is nice, but no better than Samsung or LG. It's just that Apple has managed to combine services and experiences and business models in a more holistic way. And this is what we consumers are ultimately buying. If we were buying a phone we'd buy based on the best reception, or the best coverage. Instead we buy based on design, integration, style, beliefs about the company, and many other factors that make up customer expectations and customer experience. This is where innovation should focus - not on the shiny new technology or object - but on the total customer solution and experience. We must start with this in mind and work backwards to the technologies and component solutions that provide a total experience. This is the holy grail, and once we understand that innovation will take off like wildfire.