Innovation is about failing learning

Customer Innovation isn’t a hunt for silver bullets, and there are no perfect solutions. So, your best plans well executed aren’t enough to get you there. Yet haphazard experimentation doesn’t product results either—that’s expensive, and rarely leads to desired outcomes.

You need high-conviction and clarity about what matters. Then, the expectation to fail, and a mindset to learn your way forward.

Do it fast. Keep it cheap. And use learning make smaller decisions more often.

Four steps for actionable innovation

Make it simple, Keep it simple.

Simple goals and metrics
Map risky assumptions to focus on first
Design experiments to learn the right things
Get the learning, decide what to learn next

A case study: Enterprise Innovation for Retail Insurance.

The challenge

Customer innovation is a first-class priority at the company, who underwrite $12B in annual premiums. Big investments were previously made, to build a digital innovation capability for digital products that put customers first, while achieving key business outcomes. Yet digital innovation could take up to six months to develop and launch, with no guarantee of success. We needed ways to innovate at a faster pace with lower cost.


A product innovation advisor joined 35 employees, organised into 6 teams at the company. Operating as a player-coach, we explored and developed a range of solutions to priority customer problems in new and different ways.

Each member brought their unique skills and expertise to the team, from product design, to customer research, data analysis, engineering, and marketing. These small cross-functional product teams combined the best of Design Thinking, Lean, and Agile approaches to accelerate customer development through rapid experimentation. Focussing on fast feedback and short learning cycles, the team used many methods of learning, from a customer chat with a scrappy sketch, to fake-door tests, and working software prototypes using PaaS machine learning services.


What our teams can now achieve is extraordinary. We’ve supercharged the pace of learning and cut through the red tape that gets in the way of enterprise innovation, unblocking the path for other teams to follow.

—Principal Product Manager

90% reduction in cost of customer learning

Accelerated decisions from months to days

Over 100 ideas explored

20 experiments involving 2,000+ customers