The Innovator’s Dilemma: Creating Success from Failure
Best Practices & Case Studies

The Innovator’s Dilemma: Creating Success from Failure

Daniel Julien - 01.07.2020

Innovation happens all the time. People find new solutions to old problems using a different combination of ideas and tools — and sometimes they change the world.

When Steve Jobs announced the first release of his renowned company's phone in 2007, the executives at his great rival, Nokia, reacted by saying, “It’s impossible!” In that speech, where he revealed the first model of the phone, Jobs talked about how the company would soon release a new music player, a phone, and an Internet communication device. These three new devices sounded amazing. When he told the audience that it was just one device, they went wild with excitement.

That’s because great innovation is exciting. Sometimes a new solution or idea can entirely change an industry. Innovation can change the way people behave, and it just needs someone like Steve Jobs to ask why we can’t try a new way of fixing an old problem.

But innovation is not easy. In most companies, it requires a cultural change that is not natural, because embracing innovation also means embracing — and rewarding — failure.

In a world where we only ever reward the winners, this doesn’t sound right. But think for a moment about what lies at the heart of great innovation — experimentation. You need to gather your ideas together and then try them to see what happens. Most of them will fail, but some will work. When you find the one that works really well, then that’s where you need to focus. If you never have any failed projects, then that means you are only doing what you already know.

The Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, knows more about innovation than most people. He wrote the legendary book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Clayton was once asked by McDonald’s how they could increase the sales of their milkshakes. The typical marketing response was either to change the recipe, to promote the milkshakes with advertising, or to discount them and attract customers with better prices. All logical ideas, but all also wrong.

Clayton took a different approach. He asked McDonald’s what job is the milkshake doing in the life of the customer? He watched the customers buying milkshakes for several days and noticed that half of all milkshakes are sold before 8:30 in the morning. The customer is usually alone. The milkshake is usually purchased without any other product, and the customer is usually driving.

The two jobs the milkshake performs is to keep the customer from being bored on their drive to work and to ensure they are not hungry by 10 am — that’s it. Clayton advised McDonald’s to make the milkshakes easier and faster for commuters to purchase with swipe cards, and make them thicker, so they last longer. Sales in some restaurants increased by 700%.

Clayton Christensen and Steve Jobs both created innovative solutions to problems that, at first sight, had a completely different solution. Some call it insight, but anyone close to real innovation knows that experimentation is the key. Try a lot of different ideas and fail fast. As soon as you can see that one idea is not working, move immediately to the next until you hit the solution.

Think about any modern innovative technology that people say is about to change the world. You might suggest the Internet of Things, social media, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, or Robotic Process Automation. Where are these innovations really changing how companies do business?

Customer experience. All these technological innovations are changing the way customers interact with brands. But at the end of the day what brands, and what we all want, is to get closer to customers and provide outstanding customer experiences.

At TP, we are focused every day in how we can delight the customers and improve their engagement with a brand to bring real results. We are thankful to be trusted by our clients to manage billions of unique interactions all around the world, because matching technology and human touch is our obsession.

We believe that each interaction is an opportunity to rebuild trust, transform people’s lives, and improve businesses. Moving forward to the future, and with our clients’ needs in mind, we have embraced the digital transformation to create enhanced customer experience in each interaction. Because at TP each interaction matters.

For us, all these new technologies mean one thing: How TP can serve you better.

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