Innovation and Customer Experience

We live in amazing times with endless opportunities to experience and participate in the process of many established industries being re-imagined. However, an innovation is a risky business and most attempts to re-think how things are done conventionally do not produce commercial success.

The single most important reason new products and services frequently fail to find massive commercial success is tInnovation and CX 1he misunderstanding of the core difference between innovation and invention.

Invention is about creating something new, while innovation introduces the concept of “utility” of an idea, process or method. An invention is usually a “thing”, while an innovation is often an application of one or more inventions that causes change in behavior, interactions and experience.


These terms are often used interchangeably and that inadvertently causes a shift of focus from experience to technology. That focus is what separates inventors like Dean Kamen from innovators like Elon Mask, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos.


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The romance of novelty (invention) blinds many entrepreneurs to the fact that markets have relatively low capacity to absorb (adapt to) radical change. Consumers – your potential customers – are too busy occupied by the complexities of jobs they are trying to perform. There are not in the market for products or services, but for the desired outcomes these products promise to deliver. Therefore, unless the use of your product or service can dramatically simplify that “job”, they are not likely to “hire” (purchase) it in large numbers regardless how “new”, “improved”, “exciting”, and “innovative” your marketing describes it.

The domain of innovation is not defined by the best features, specifications or market segmentation, but by consistent simplification of the target customers’ experience.

Innovators should think less about market segments and more about the jobs customers want to do. The job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for an innovator who hopes to develop products that customers will buy” Clayton Christensen (text in italics is added by me).


When I needed to re-publish a website for my wife’s business I was referred to as the best website builder software provider. Initially, I loved its innovative design functionality until I had to actually publish the site at which point the software was not very helpful and the customer support non-existent.

After a few days of frustration I became a very grateful customer of that has substantially less creative website building software, but got me up and running within 2 days.

The examples of iPhone and Tesla show that discovery and reduction of complexities and frictions your target customers experience on their path to desired outcomes, is the shortest and surest road to innovation and creation of new markets.

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4 Responses to Innovation and Customer Experience

  1. Mike Steffes says:

    Very useful concept…Innovation vs. Invention.
    This caught my eye: “markets have relatively low capacity to absorb (adapt to) radical change”
    I think the capacity depends on the perception of the change. The piece touches on that with how an innovation must simplify the job in order to be widely accepted. Markets can sometimes accept radical change. Increasing the number of True Innovators could probably elevate the “sometimes” to “quite often”

  2. Arthur Timms says:

    This is very common. On one hand it is the person or persons with the innovation idea and don’t understand the process to communicate, and let’s face reality, sell the idea. Second, the ones responsible for stimulating innovation often do not listen well. Listening is very important in life but more so where new innovative ideas or concepts may be in the balance. If innovation is encouraged those who stimulate the encouragement better have the ability to listen. At times a new idea is not thought of in current corporate phraseology. Listen!

  3. “They are not in the market for products or services, but for the desired outcomes these products promise to deliver.” This is a great point, and why advertisers are always told to sell benefits, not features. If you offer the best product or service to help with their pain points, you’ll get the business.

  4. Pingback: Why building better mousetraps is not rewarding | Customer Experience IQ Blog

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