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Approaches to Innovation

Today I read an article in the Harvard Business Review (Jan-Feb 2014 Issue) titled “The New Patterns of Innovation” by Rashik Parmar, Ian Mackenzie, David Cohn, and David Gann.  The premise of the article is that many search for new business ideas and models, but the process may seem to be hit or miss.  The authors further explain that a systematic approach to innovation is preferred.  Historically, innovation has been based on current capabilities/assets; studying customer behavior and needs; and following "megatrends." The authors suggest a fourth approach which involves integrating ‘big data’ and analytic tools. 

In general, I thought the article while somewhat interesting did not share any earth-shattering findings.  However, I did find the examples of innovation attention-grabbing and thought-provoking.  One I especially enjoyed was related to The Greater London Authority.  A cross-sector initiative is underway to help manage roadway congestion resulting from a sizable increase in the number of small vans and trucks delivering packages from e-retailers.  I was thinking about this phenomenon last week.  In the span of just an hour I saw a Peapod truck, a US Postal carrier truck, a UPS truck, and a FedEx truck on my cul-de-sac.  My initial reaction was “wow, everything is so convenient.  Maybe I won’t have to leave the house” (this was really on my mind, given we had just had 12 inches of snow a couple of days earlier), but in reading this article, I realized that yes, there are definitely more deliveries and beyond just on my street.  This “problem” does open the door for a solution – or an “innovation”.  I will try to be more positive in my evaluations of “problems” and turn them into opportunities for innovation brainstorming.

As always, next my line of thinking turns to how can we incorporate this into a customer experience assessment?  Well, we often ask for open end responses as follow ups to negative ratings.  Rather than simply working to “fix” the problem, we could take it one more step by seeing if we can innovate to not only “fix”, but possibly “enhance” as well.

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