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Hannah Whittaker

January 3, 2012 in Innovation

A Need for Speed… Or Something Else?

True innovation is successful when it works to solve a problem or satisfy a need. One of the biggest cultural shifts in our society in the last century has been the need for more instant results, a lack of patience that comes from the ever-quickening pace of technology. One of the core components of innovation is now therefore related to speed, be it through management of the product lifecycle to get products to market quicker, or providing solutions to speed up slow moving global information and data.

I was interested to read about companies who are doing the opposite, or innovating solutions for problems centred around slow movement, without using speed as the answer. The world knows us Brits as ‘lovers’ of queuing (although I wouldn’t go that far), but our patient demeanour and seeming inability to complain has gained us this reputation. As this is an obvious problem for most people, at the bank, post office, on the phone, when they have limited time left on their lunch break, many companies have jilted the potentially more expensive option of investing in their services, in favour of creating more of an interesting experience.

Virgin Media have introduced the option for callers who are waiting in a queue to choose their own play list while they wait. The staff choose a jukebox every month from 5 different genres which the customer can select from on prompt while they wait. Other forms of queuing have also been exploited by companies as opportunities to advertise products on screens in shops- equally working as a happy distraction for the customer. Interactive media can even be introduced in the form of scent, where much scientific effort is invested in enhancing the sensory experience of queuing.

Innovation therefore exists not just as a black and white solution. Much of the innovation process consists of thinking out of the box, allowing for the art of the possible and not taking the first and quickest route when a longer term solution is needed.

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