Innovation and learning: Exploring feedback from service to design

M. Ajayi*, P. Smart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Successful product innovation demands better integration between the design and service functions of corporations. This requires effective feedback from the field about 'product in use' performance to influence the design of future product and service market offerings that will genuinely contribute to increased customer satisfaction. With the availability of highquality product field data, the application of techniques such as failure mode effect and analysis (FMEA) can be used to identify and classify failures, analyse their root causes, and propose likely failure consequences to reduce future risks in product development. The present paper discusses the preliminary findings of an exploratory study, in a leading multinational heating company, into the nature and operation of the feedback process from the service to the design function. Initial findings demonstrate that feedback is essentially a learning process that seeks to drive innovation in product development. In addition, some emerging antecedents of an effective feedback process are also presented. These include the need to: capture not only textual data but also contextual information about product failures; have appropriate classification systems; collect and record detailed and accurate failure data; formalize feedback processes; and improve integrating mechanisms to allow open and closed-loop communications between the service and design functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1195-1199
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Failure mode effect and analysis
  • Feedback process
  • Field data
  • Product innovation
  • Quality and reliability


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