Friday, October 20, 2006

Innovation Immersion Wrap up

Two days and one coast to coast red eye later, I've had a chance to reflect on the things to take away from the Innovation Immersion conference.

One of the speakers I enjoyed the most was Carol Pletcher from Cargill. What I liked about her presentation was the emphasis that a firm like Cargill, which is "just" an agricultural products processor, could become more innovative. Carol and her team defined innovation as converting knowledge and insights into solutions. Cargill recognized that it would not be creating the next iPod or other cool consumer device, but it can innovate its products, services and business model.

One way they did that was by questioning what and who they are. An example Carol gave was the "salt" business unit, which provided salt and chemicals to provide safer driving conditions in winter. By changing the way they thought about the business (and renaming the business to "De-Icing") they challenged themselves to think beyond their existing business and identified new technologies that make roads less slippery and that can absorb salts and chemicals long before the snow falls or the ice forms.

Genentech provided another interesting example of the different viewpoints on innovation. Genentech thinks of innovation as a result of the teams, processes and intent of the organization. You know a company is innovative when it sends people from its HR group to present the innovation initiatives and work they've done to impact the culture of the business!

Finally, Jeneanne Rae from Peer Insight spoke and provided their framework for thinking about the customer experience for service innovation firms. Peer Insight talks about a customer journey, which consists of all the touchpoints a customer has with a services firm. In many ways their concepts are analogous to the "whole product" definition from Geoffrey Moore. The customer journey concerns all the phases in learning about, experiencing and completing an interaction with a services firm - and why it's important that all the touchpoints are considered and addressed consistently.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 12:28 PM

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