It’s not innovation if you don’t innovate the service itself

Too frequently, we see things labelled as ‘innovation’ — but often, these things don’t work out, the project fails.

But failure is good, right?

Yes! Failure can be good. It’s a great way to learn, but if you’re innovating and your fail overall, you clearly didn’t learn.

So, how do we use failure to help, rather than hinder?

Idea, FAIL, why?, Bin it.

Good failures are the ones you learn from.

Failing is only step two of four, there’s an emotional rollercoaster that comes next, starting with letting go of your idea. I’m sorry, you tried, it was just a bad idea.

So you start with an idea, it fails, what next? Analysis.

Why did your idea fail? Which element caused it to fail and how do you want to change that to something else?

Now bin the bad bits — we don’t need them any more. Try again.

People recognise the above diagram as something that happens in UX and in digital. let’s take interaction design — we might try moving our submit button, carry out some usability testing, and realise we messed up. But this process doesn’t happen often enough with services.


This monstrosity of a process is what happens when you don’t change based on failure.

If something is failing, just let go.

Too often, when a service’s failure is identified, the solution is to change the way that service is presented, but it’s the root problem which we need to innovate.


Actually innovating

INNOVATE THE WHOLE DAMN SERVICE. If your customer satisfaction levels are low after support calls, don’t just replace your call centre with an app, or your app with a new app, look at your customer engagement and see what you can do to fix it.

Always try and look a level up to see if you can get to the root of the problem you’re facing, and when I say look, I mean get customers to look for you. Feedback, qualitative research, A/B testing, surveys. All of these can be used to work out the root cause of a problem, pay attention to them!

We shouldn’t discourage contained, managed failure. We should, however, be sure to create an environment where we can gain from the failures by educating ourselves.

Now let’s all go forth and fail.

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