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Carroll Connection

Woo, Wow, and Win: Excerpts

The ideas of Andy Boynton, the Carroll School’s dean, are cited frequently in the new book Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight, authored by Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell, and published by HarperCollins. Boynton was interviewed by the authors on such topics as customer-driven innovation and design, and how to test ideas for maximum impact.

Here are two passages:

Redesigning Renewal

Innovation value is created in three arenas: ideation—coming up with a goodly number of ideas of high quality; selection—the art and science of picking the best ideas; and execution—bringing the selected ideas into being and to the market. As we will see, in service design the lines between them blur, but it is useful to look at each by itself.

Because organizations tend to be inward-looking and bureaucratic, they drive innovation around what they think should matter, often based on a superficial understanding of the customer. “To be able to build value, you’ve got to understand the lives of your customers, whether it is B2B or B2C,” says Andy Boynton, dean of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. To do this, you need to design a way to bring the customer into each innovation arena.

All In, All at Once

To measure the heartbeat of service design innovation, consider Intuit, the provider of Quicken, TurboTax, Mint, and other financial software and services. About a decade ago, its growth slowing, Intuit turned to design thinking as a way to engage the whole company in innovation, not just a handful of researchers, and to increase its ability to execute new ideas. Intuit’s “Design for Delight” process (inevitable, now D4D) begins with field research to uncover customer pain points, then uses rapid prototyping and experimentation to shorten the cycle between ideation and execution. Roger Martin, the design-thinking evangelist who is former dean of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto (and an advisor to Intuit), reports that the TurboTax team went from running just one live-customer experiment in 2006 to 600 in 2010. During the 2012 income tax season alone, Intuit ran experiments in weekly batches, with each week’s results feeding into the next week’s experiments, for a total of 140 different tests.

One reason rapid-fire innovation works is that research in the wild offers a high degree of validation compared with small pilot projects or studies done only in controlled conditions; this makes the decision to scale easier. Says Boston College’s Andy Boynton: “You want to avoid big bets. You’re better off testing a lot of things and seeing what works for real rather than making a few big bets hoping they’re going to work.” According to Intuit CEO Brad Smith, many of his company’s experiments are aimed at finding ways to save customers time, for example by copying data that does not often change (address, number of dependents, etc.) from one year’s return to the next, or by highlighting what’s new this year, which saves time when the tax-preparing spouse shows the ready-to-file return to the other.