94% of executives have
an innovation problem...

“94% of executives are unsatisfied with innovation performance”. Yet “84% see innovation as important to growth”! Whilst “54% of companies struggle to bridge the gap between innovation and business”. Worse; “very few executives know what the problem is and how to fix it”!

This is the innovation problem.

Unfortunately, we perform innovation theatre, misalign execution with vision, forget to address innovation resistance, and don’t appreciate how inefficient “ideas-first” approaches are.

And we have forgotten the basics. Firstly that “the firm has two, and only two activities: marketing and innovation”. As well as that “people don’t want to buy a 1/4 inch drill; they want a 1/4 inch hole”.

Worse. We cling to old, one-sided, views of value. Where only manufacturers can create value, and users destroy it. The whole focus is the point where value is exchanged for cold hard cash.

And our innovation theories, as well as approaches, developed from the same manufacturing observations.

...Let's fix that

We can fix the innovation problem. We just need to think differently

We need to become innovation-first organisations - no more bolt-on approaches. We need different definitions of value and innovation; driven by taking a service view of the world - helping beneficiaries make progress - and where goods are ways to distribute (frozen) service.

Our different view of value reflects an ability to help a beneficiary make progress (get jobs done) and minimise hassles; rather than the amount something can be sold for. It recognises value is co-generated during use and so only value propositions can be made. And that beneficiaries alone determine value based on their lived and living experiences.

From there, we can evolve the definition of innovation to one where enabling beneficiaries to make progress in new/better ways than before is the aim. And where innovation resistance, often missed, is minimised.

We remove the stumbling block of goods vs services, and decades of thinking that goods are good, services bad. Instead, we evolve our thinking to recognise goods as a means to distribute services that have been frozen (where service is the application of skills and competence for the benefit of another (or self)).

The ways of thinking, actions and approaches I base my work on are wrapped up under the name service-dominant logic.

And embracing a service perspective gives a natural home to Jobs-to-be-done theory and Blue Ocean strategy. Consequently our solution space becomes much wider. As well as explaining Agile and lean approaches. And, not least, our evolved view of value opens up the application of the circular economy as an obvious and natural part of value proposal.

Who am I?

I've been a Chief Innovation Officer on the front line and experienced first hand the challenges of creating and setting up an innovation initiative in a global account. I have suffered the highs of getting 20+ innovations into an innovation pipeline; only to find getting traction and tangible results a challenge.

So I took some time out, went to the fantastic Business School at Imperial College London to study this innovation problem more. And I started getting introduced to service innovation and the service dominant logic

And now I am now exploring those thoughts more through this site

Article Journeys

What's the best way to navigate the articles on this site? Go through the latest articles, or better still: take a journey!

I've organised the articles into journeys, such as "Innovation Essentials" and "Making Service-Dominant Logic more approachable". Flick through the journey's below, or see them collected together in one place.

A good foundation in the essentials of innovation is, well, essential!

This journey covers how ideas spread - diffusion; how they gain traction - adoption; and the often (mistakenly) ignored topic of resistance.

You'll get a deeper knowledge of the challenges and solutions to diffusion and adoption (in a network-first manner). Bass, Rogers, Moore, Gladwell (the tipping point) and the big/little hire of Christensen's jobs to be done theory are all looked at. As well as a grounding on the types of resistance and what can cause it. Just remember the first version, and ultimate failure, of Google Glass.

Creating an innovation success, in practice, means:

  1. your innovation helps the customer make progress in their life

  2. you have removed resistance to your innovation

  3. you've worked out how to spread knowledge about your innovation within your target market (the right network), and

  4. you can scale

Harnessing service-dominant logic in our innovation thinking opens up numerous opportunities. Compared to being constrained by the goods-dominant logic we typically use today.

Instead of the whole business focussing on one moment of value exchange (point of sale), we look beyond and build relationships. Suddenly jobs-to-be-done, blue ocean, experiences, agile etc all hang together and make sense.

However. The definitions of service-dominant logic can be unapproachable. Which leads to it being more of an academic study rather than practical real-world application it deserves to be.

This journey looks at how we can demystify the definitions.

Our economic (and casual) view of the world is very product-centric. We feel comfortable with tangible things. And have built up ways of thinking and acting (a logic) around the value of (tangible) goods and that we exchange value by exchanging goods. We see that the manufacturing process is where value is added - raw goods are less valuable than something they are manufactured into.

Yet, our economies are around 80% built on service. And this is growing.

In this article journey, we observe there are four main causes behind the shift to service economies - economic, user behaviour, asset usage and value of data.

We look at what service is through many definitions. We find that classically we define service as a poor relative to goods. Noting that they are intangible, inconsistent, inseparable, can't build an inventory, and need involvement. However, we further find that these attributes are actually good attributes. Inventory is expensive, inconsistent means configurable etc.

Next we uncover a more formal way of describing a service - as a set of characteristics. Once we have that, we can then understand what service innovation is - improvements to those characteristics.

Finally we introduce den Hertog's 4-dimension model that we can use for searching for service innovations. We enhance it to reflect the modern world that is technology and data forward. And we see how we can use the concepts in that model to manage a service innovation portfolio. As well as understand our ability to implement service innovations (and where we could improve).


A journey through the site's articles that look at defining what is innovation.

We start with discussing what is innovation. Beginning with the early Schumpter's definitions in the 1930s. Through the diversion of product/manufacturing bias. And concluding with our modern service-dominant logic lens on the definition.

Then there are some articles that look at particular characterisation on innovation. First up is disruptive innovation. A solid theory, but yet another word that is used in every day speach too loosely. For example, is Uber a disruptive innovation in the taxi market? Not really, from a theory perspective.

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"Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection"

Mark Twain
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