Innovation is An Investment in Human Capital

who do you want your customers to becomeInnovation is as much about attitude and perspective as it is about process. So how you view innovation matters. It sounds trivial but it makes a huge difference from both an organizational and strategic point of view.

Let me explain…

On a recent trip to New York, I had a discussion with a collaborator about our own perspective on innovation. For me, innovation is about people transformation; not products, services, business models and other ways of innovating. These are enablers to realizing ones customer vision.

For example, at Netek our perspective is that we’re creating more emotionally aware people. That’s what we’re asking our clients to become when they use any of our products; not the end goal.

My conversation with my collaborator reminded me of a very powerful question: Who do you want your customers to become?

This idea, and ebook, was published by MIT’s Michael Schrage some years ago; I share with you a few quotes below. In Who do you want your customers to become? Michael Schrage writes:

“Successful innovators don’t ask customers and clients to do something different; they ask them to become something different. Successful innovators ask users to embrace new values, new skills, new behaviors, new vocabulary, new ideas, new expectations, and new aspirations. They transform their customers.”

“Innovation is an investment in human capital. In the capabilities and competencies of your customers. Your future depends on their future!”

“Innovation is about designing customers, not just new products, new services, and new user experiences!”

“What you want your customers to become?’ & ‘What your innovations ask them to do?’ must align with each other. Meaning, customer vision and user experience must be in sync with each other.”

“Their innovations make customers better and make better customers.”


This is a more visionary approach to innovation than simply solving people’s needs. What is your perspective on innovation?