I was lucky enough to attend the PM Annual Conference yesterday and Christie Guimond (Co-founder of She Breaks the Law) gave a fantastic talk on Innovation - 'What it is, isn't and should be'. She brought innovation to life with stories and examples everyone can relate to. Here is a summary of some of the key points from her session.
What it isn't:
- Not just Efficiency - Speeding up the process by cutting corners isn't innovation. Christie used the example of Boeing. They created a brilliant more fuel-efficient engine that had potential to save airlines billions each year but in an effort to save time and money they used a very similar design for the rest of the aircraft - This caused all sorts of complications as the newer engines were far bigger and heavier than previous one.
- Not just an Idea - Revolutionary ideas are only revolutionary if they are possible.
- Not just Technology - Flashy technology is only innovation if it solves a problem - not creates more. Bluesmart once made smart luggage with built-in Lithium battery so you can charge your things on the go. Following a change in airline regulations, these inbuilt batteries needed to be removed before traveling. This meant that smart luggage created more faff and no longer seemed that smart.
What innovation is:
- Empathy - It must be human-centered at its design. Christie told the story of Doug Dietz, a designer at GE Healthcare, who after finishing a project with a new MRI machine, realised that it still needed some work to make it more child-friendly. He pulled in a team of experts- including designers, nurses, kids and came up with an innovative, design-driven solution that transformed healthcare for children and their families. (Link to Doug's Ted Talk)
- Simple with profound impact - It doesn't necessarily need to a complicated. Coming up with a cheaper, easier, more accessible way of doing something is innovation.
- Create value for the consumer - It needs to be tailored for the customer not for you.
- Personal and Individual - Christie describes this nicely as "Innovation is in the eye of the beholder, What's innovative for you may not be innovative for others"
In summary, Christie stressed that Innovation needs to be human-centric and about the people. After all, you are not innovating for the sake of it, ultimately you do it to make the services you provide better for your clients.