Edited by Chris Bilton and Stephen Cummings
Chapter 4: The lab is back - towards a new model of innovation in services
This chapter considers the ëservice laboratoryí as a model which bridges two different approaches to innovation in manufacturing and service industries. Innovation processes in service firms are characterised as unsystematic, based on practical experiences of individual customersí needs and on engagement with customers in the service encounter. This approach often involves customers as co-creators of innovation and results in innovations that fit customersí needs. Conversely, it may be limited to incremental innovations that are only used by individual customers. In comparison, manufacturing innovation has traditionally been based on systematic use of natural and technical sciences for which the laboratory is the ultimate ideal (for example, in the pharmaceutical industry and electronics). Combining these two contrasting models relates to the bisociative definition of creativity outlined in the introduction to this handbook. How might service firms develop a more systematic approach to innovation which still retains the strengths of their user-centred model? In a case study of an insurance company we have observed a potential solution to the lack of systematisation of innovation in service firms. The company has established what they consider to be an innovation laboratory with the purpose of increasing the companyís innovativeness through experimentation and systematisation of innovation procedures.
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