Innovation confuses most people.


In helping clients to see their business from the perspective of their customers, we hit a challenge: what to call this work? It’s easy to be confused by innovation.

After years of calling it Design Thinking, but having to explain what that means every time we say it, some bright spark came up with Human-Centred Design. Is that different, or the same thing?

At about the time this happened, your Human Resources department probably started saying things like ‘solutionise’ and talked about being in ‘human capital management’ or ‘human relations’. What’s with the ‘human’ fixation at the moment?

Here’s the crux of the issue

People who run businesses are beginning to realise that they don’t sell a product in isolation. They now know that they solve a problem for somebody else.

Want some software? Buy it as a service. Want a car? Lease it. Want accommodation in a city? Short-term rent it.

In a really short period of time, these solutions have become the drivers of product and service usage, because we no longer want to buy software, buy cars, or rent in six-month blocks of time. Product solutions now make it easier for customers to access services and products without taking on the responsibility of ownership or paying a premium over and above the value.

Innovation as a service

These new ways of engaging with brands are not exclusive yet. There are still many brands out there who don’t subscribe to the idea that they exist to serve you. Some brands still think it’s OK to sell you a subscription and hope you forget about it, so they can keep charging your debit card every month for a service you don’t use. Try booking onto a class at your membership gym in January and see how many times you get to go. See how far you get asking for a refund on that month’s payment. Just saying.

About being ‘human-centred’

Frankly, you can call your departments whatever you like. It doesn’t matter to your customers. What they want is to see that you have taken time to understand their issue and have designed a solution – for them. Walk into a room with the answer your client is looking for and you can call yourself King Pooba of Love if you want to.

So, is innovation confusing? Yes – but only until you work out what it is and who it’s for. And only until you realise that if you aren’t doing it for your clients right now, somebody else is about to.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do. Write to me now. Let’s talk.