Sunday, March 2, 2008

Innovation meets the Law of Unintended Consequences

Sometimes you get an idea for a product or service that feels so profoundly good and so right that it seems there is no way it can fail with your customers. Funny thing about customers, though. They have their own agendas, and they don't always respond exactly as you predict they would.

Leah Santini is a home health care nurse in Peoria, Ill. One of her charges, 91 year old Rosemary Kramm, had seemed depressed for some time, and Ms. Santini was thinking of a way to cheer her up. She noticed that Ms. Kramm perked up at the sight of Uno, the champion beagle, on TV. Ms. Santini, by an amazing coincidence, knew one of Uno's owners, and a personal visit from Uno was arranged.

Slam dunk, right? Perhaps not, according to this story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

"Oh, I can't believe it!" Kramm said repeatedly, as she patted and stroked the dog. "I can die now. I can leave this planet."

"Leaving the planet" is exactly what the visit from the world-famous dog was intended to prevent. Let's hope that Ms. Kramm was speaking only metaphorically, or else Ms. Santini's career as a health care innovator will take a serious hit.

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