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Lovable Innovation Part 1: Essential Philosophies to Deliver Lovable Products with Lessons from Apple to GM

In recent decades, management consultants who led the charge to “innovate or die!” have deluged industry with a wide range of innovation concepts to consider such as radical, disruptive, incremental, experience and more.  Some of these innovation concepts focus on enhancing current products and services, while others focus on creating game-changing technology, products, or business models.

Product companies have responded with a dizzying array of new product innovations, but many are left wondering why they are still dying.  I suspect that the root cause to these innovation mishaps is that through all the innovation jargon, they have forgotten the fact that innovation, whether it’s radical or incremental, can’t be just about new features, products, or technology. All innovation efforts must be directed towards products and solutions that customers desire.

We will address innovation challenges and offer a focused approach to innovation – Lovable Innovation - using General Motors, Apple, and others as examples. The three part article series will close by providing the five key essential philosophies of Lovable Innovation.

What is Lovable Innovation?

Lovable Innovation may seem like a flippant term for a business process as important as innovation, but companiesmust think about product innovation in the same way that customers talk and think about their products. Customers don’t say, “Have you seen the new Iphone? It has an accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate!” Instead, they say, “I love my new iPhone. Look at how I can turn it all ways and still watch a video. It’s amazing!” When a product or service is so good that it creates real emotion, customers often describe this relationship in emotive terms with the ultimate descriptor being “love.” I’ll even catch myself using “love” when describing the products that have earned my devotion. I’ve loved cars, printers, shoes, and calculators (yes, I did love my HP-11C), and there is no question that I’ve ultimately disliked many other products that have managed to destroy their relationship with me.

Lovable Innovation is the process of learning what customers really value and then using all the resources you have available to deliver complete, lovable products, services and experiences throughout the entire life cycle of the customer. This starts with a commitment to thoroughly understand your customers – their problems, needs, and desires - and not compromising until you’ve delivered the products and services that earn their love and respect. Lovable Innovation doesn’t end with the first purchase, but continues with every interaction with the company to the next purchase, and then the next purchase. Lovable Innovation leads to loyal, passionate customers who are inspired to tell friends about your products and your company. Lexus achieves this with cars. Apple achieves this with personal electronics. Nike achieves this with shoes.

While radical, incremental and other forms of innovation are important tools in product development, all innovation efforts must be driven by Lovable Innovation practices and directed toward the goal of lovable products and services. For example, smart-phone companies knew the web offered unlimited customer benefits and included web services on their devices for years.  However, it wasn’t until Apple decided to focus on making web services a lovable experience, and then relentlessly applied innovation to deliver this experience, that web services became the killer application that thrust the iPhone to the forefront of the industry and allowed them to capture a whole new set of customers that extol their love for Apple.

The Components of Lovable Products

The core of a Lovable Innovation process is the ability to gain a deep understanding of what customers really care about and value and then breaking this insight into manageable components. These components, of lovable products are something I refer to as Love Elements.  Love Elements include the complete range of product and service attributes that drive customer purchase decisions, long term product satisfaction and company devotion. Love Elements are certainly in the product features, functions and benefits, but they go beyond this; they may show up in the attitude shown by customer service agents, in the way the product manual is written, in the way the buttons feel, and in every other customer touch point with the product and the company.

Apple creates love throughout the entire i-experience starting with clean retail stores, clean industrial designs, thoughtful functionality, and integrated services such as the iPhone App Store.  Netflix creates love by allowing customers to keep a DVD forever without penalty and unlimited movies streamed directly to their TV. Nike creates love even after a customer retires their shoes by allowing customers to send them back to be recycled in children’s playgrounds as Nike Grind.

About the Author: Dorian Simpson founded Planning Innovations in 2002 to help technology-driven companies launch successful products and services through focused innovation management and planning. He has significant experience in both engineering and marketing to help build the bridge between these two critical innovation functions.

He can be reached at or through his website at

Learn More about the innovation process!

Please join Survey Analytics and Planning Innovations Dorian Simpson for this one-hour webinar on how cost-effective online tools can be used throughout the innovation process to identify needs, explore solutions, and validate concepts.

June 17th, 2010 at 9 AM

Effective Use of Online Survey Tools in the Innovation Process

Click here to register now:
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