“a project is considered innovative when the number of actors is not known at the outset” — Bruno Latour, ‘Aramis or the Love of Technology’

Innovation is all about relationships. To create and improve services takes new alliances between human actors – be they customers, workers or citizens – and often non-human ones too – technologies, corporations and institutions.

It’s also the art of the unpredictable. Congratulations if you already know just who needs to do what, with whom, where and when to make something succeed – but innovation isn’t like that.

When I work with start-ups, getting almost anything done necessitates new connections: innovation flourishes in these unpredictable social conditions. I also spend time on innovation in large organisations. They have to work harder to stay open, sometimes deliberately disrupting existing relationships to force the formation of new ones.

There are many different ideas about how to innovate, from the wild throw-mud-at-the-wall variety to the rigorously data-driven and analytical. People-centred service design provides a happy, human medium – thinking big enough for real breakthroughs, all the while grounded in genuine user insight.

Want to know where to start with innovation?