In many of my blogs I have emphasised how current business practices are almost being designed to crush innovation. There is in short a severe deficit of Creative Equity in favour of Analytical Equity (see my blog, ‘Manage your Creative Equity’).
The reasons are not hard to fathom. Analytical Equity, if managed well, can support (and I emphasise the word Support) the innovation process. However, usually it is handled badly. Why? Because analytical equity, over-measurement and many VOC schemes are designed as ‘Job Creation Schemes’. Sure not all are like this but many are.
Think about it, you have just been given a nice shiny new role in a company. What are you going to do? Well create structures to measure would give me a continuous role and I can blame the person below me for non-performance.
Of course I am being a little trite, but you get the point.
In my previous blogs I have alluded to this and the problem of the Culture of Measurement when it becomes burdensome. I mentioned in my blog ‘What Firm’s can learn from Freestyle Rapping and Jazz Improvisation’ how creative thinking is pushed out when individuals are tied up in knots with measurement. I demonstrated some evidence of this from Neuroscience.
I also mentioned in my blog ‘Understanding your Tipping Points’ that firms fail to understand measurement itself and its restrictions. In the book Future Trends and Insights I alluded to the point that customer psychology is not like the Natural Sciences and frequently based on ‘future expectations’. I used the example:
“Imagine a Ford car showroom in the 1920s. All cars would have been available in one colour only – black – and in one product type – the Model T. Any decision to buy would have been made on price. If you ask customers directly what they would like, they would say alternative colours and product types. There is a difference between what is offered and what could drive value.”
In fact in Emotional Signature® we have found a circa 30% difference between what people want and what actually drives value. Remember, most of your traditional statistical tools are based on Natural Science assumptions. You place a rock in the wind and rain you can predict weathering patterns. In the world of Customer Psychology this is only a partial truth, there are no grounded rules. Something ‘not in demand’ can suddenly become de rigeur (think of flat TV screens and the coming trend towards bendable phones today). This isn’t an argument against stats; it is an argument for considering the phenomena you are measuring – customer’s psychology, then apply the right measurement criteria to the phenomena. After all people are not rocks.
So with this in mind, I want to reemphasise the importance of innovation in CEM (something I alluded to in the article: Customer Experience Management: Did Pine and Gilmore Get it Wrong?).
Someone has to manage, control and direct your firm’s future. Someone has to take the risk and pilot new ideas and look for new ways of expressing your Thought Leadership. This isn’t a waste of time, it is only through the idea that you can evolve and be ahead of the game.
Look at Blackberry – resting on their laurels and now in trouble.
One of the prime signs of difficulty is when an organisation just pays lip-service to innovation or does not invest in the leading lights of innovation in your firm whether bought in, at an individual or departmental level. A further sign is ‘too much measurement’ and not enough freedom that crushes innovation.
Remember Innovation is a practical exercise it is about ‘doing’. Generating and piloting an alternative approach and seeing if it delivers. Analytical Equity is too often about ‘not doing’, measuring to death but keeping your job.
Plans are fine but they need to be dynamic and account for this innovation process and be free to accept the levels of risk that ‘doing something’ entails. After all which is the bigger risk: ‘do nothing except report on a number’ or ‘do something’.
Steven Walden is VP Consulting and Thought-Leadership for Beyond Philosophy. Steven has 17 years Customer Experience Consultancy, he is a Thought Leader and Innovator, directing engagements to assist leading firms to transform through Customer Experience. A world-leader in emotional experience his skills lie in innovation, thought-leadership, strategy consultancy and Qual/ Quant research. He is a regular speaker at conferences, blog writer, CE Trainer and international author.Follow Steven Walden on Twitter: @Steven Walden