In all the buzz about innovation versus 6s; we seem to overlook two truths:
1. Quality has two dimensions:
manufacturing and supply quality which delivers an offer into the "hands" of the consumer, and ensures it works time after time, living up to the expectations built by marketing and communication.
experience quality that delivers something that changes the life of the consumer and helps them fit into their niche in society.
2. Different ways of doing "things" that means that the life of the innovator and the implementors also changes.... innovation no less.
This means our cross-functional, cross-organisational teams need to change in innovative ways. So why is it difficult to do both?
If we don't do both we get articles written about us like this one in the Guardian newspaper which includes a section on xBox reliability as Microsoft battles against the seemingly unstoppable rise of the Nintendo Wii
"For Microsoft, though, the longevity of the Xbox 360 is attracting questions about reliability and the possibility of a price drop. Microsoft isn't happy talking about the reliability issue, also known as the "red ring of death" (What is the real failure rate of the Xbox 360, May 31)."
Nintendo have operated in Design Pyramid and Design Space to change the product in ways that enables a different unknowable ( in the development phase) consumer experience, which is incredibly difficult to respond to in the short term as it is about out innovating not incrementing your way to success. The way Nintendo's team designed the Wii is described starting here.
The Times writes about the iPhone:
The company added that the entire top surface of the iPhone has been upgraded from plastic to optical-quality glass “to achieve a superior level of scratch resistance and optical clarity”.
The move follows reports that the iPhone's glossy casing scratched too easily ( note: it was also iPod feedback) and that its touch-screen technology is fiddly to use. Some reports have suggested that as many as one in five iPhones could be returned because of faults.
The speculation seemed to mirror consumer complaints over the original iPod Nano, a miniature version of the hugely popular digital music player. After facing a storm of criticism from disgruntled Nano owners, Apple completely remodelled the product last year to give it a durable aluminium shell."
So Apple is scrambling to cross-fertilise from other products and to react to the really "difficult" negatives that there is buzz about... there can be negative feedback that is also not consumer motivating... in other words solving the problem does not change the sales of your offer as it deserves comment but not "punishment". So battery life and "defacing the icon" are seen to be real problems. But rather than bluster as Apple did over one or two iPod problems, they have changed their approach. With an incredibly efficient supply chain getting 6s behaviour and performance So innovation seems to feature both in the organisations delivering the product/service that enables the consumer experience; and in the consumer's response to the offer of a different experience. i.e. the vector of change operates in, at least, 3 dimensions and so we should look at each project we undertake at personal, group, organisational, industry level to see what axes of the vector are affected and should therefore be managed ( I'll blog about this shortly).
Reminds me of the lyrics of Bob Dylan's "For the times they are a-changin"
The challenge is of course confronted by Ghandi who said
"Be the change that you want to see in the world."
Which turns out to be easy to say and pretty hard to do. Why? What is the model of change we need to embrace in order to be that change.
Lewin developed a change theory based on 3 "Unfreezing-Changing-Refreezing" processes which address the challenges that I have been describing here, and I will return to Lewin in another post shortly.