Welcome to Issue 8 of Sparks & Kindling, where we take a moment to share some of the more thought-provoking, interesting or just plain entertaining articles and thinking we’ve come across in the world of innovation over the last few weeks.
An interesting listen from Harvard Business Review, that concentrates away from the usual discussion of whether you should be focusing on disruption or incremental innovation and starts to illustrate the benefits of innovating around the customer experience. Quite rightly (in our view) it doesn’t limit the idea of customer experience to just service, but more broadly talks about how adding products and services around your brand can enable more significant, and importantly low risk, growth.
Lies, damn lies and statistics. We’re all a little bit jaded around data, statistics and facts at the moment, whether it’s business or politics. Part of the problem is that sometimes we don’t understand the methodologies enough to know if what we’re being told makes sense or whether the data should be used in the way it’s being discussed. So, an immensely forward thinking student at Brown University has taken it upon himself to create Seeing Theory. It takes the five most common areas of statistics and using graphics and interactive tools, allows the user to understand the concept visually. Time for us all to get more informed and confident about stats.
Talking of data, here’s a great, quick list (hat-tip to IDEO) on how to use data to inspire design by going beyond the general rules of a market and finding the quirks and the start points for where your customers and the market might go next… all using data as a start point but then playing it forward to somewhere fresh and new.
Now here’s some interesting evidence from McKinsey about whether it’s worth spending so much effort buying loyalty (spoiler: probably not), or whether it’s now more effective to treat your customers as first time every time. With the rise of digital based purchasing, the chances of your customer dropping you from their consideration set has never been greater. So maybe it's time we changed how we think about long term customer relationships (quaintly referred to as loyalty) and think instead of how we engaged them the first time and figure out how to apply that to our interactions with them, every time.
There’s a lot of data out there and frankly much of it just tells you how the world is, not how it could be. Which is why we’re seeing a slew of brands break away from looking in the rearview mirror and start to build some bricks and mortar experiments to create data based on the “what could be”. We’re sure you’ve all heard about Amazon’s store in Seattle, but our favourite experiment of the moment is from Citymapper who not only provide the most brilliantly useful app for anyone trying to get around any major city, but who now want to work out how to actually improve the infrastructure. This week they’ve launched a bus and bus route and they’re running a series of experiments from which they’re going to derive new data sets. Clearly the bus driver relies on their rearview mirror, but it's good to see Citymapper at least focusing on what’s ahead.
If you didn’t catch this earlier in the month, or you never got around to having a proper look, the Museum of Failure has launched in Helsingborg Sweden. Instead of focusing on what can be learned when a project goes well, they are fascinated by the lessons that can be learned when innovation fails (a worthy exploit). Some of the items are surely not a surprise. After all, who wouldn’t want to look like Hannibal Lecter when using the Rejuvenique facial toning system?