It’s the ultimate business cliché that the customer is always right. Client views are critical in shaping products and services, but what role should they play in innovation? Technology now allows unparalleled degrees of interconnectedness, to the point where artists such as Grammy Award-winner Imogen Heap plans to crowdsource an entire album. In this age of hyper-customercentricity, though, not everyone agrees it’s the only way forward. Alessandro Di Fiore, CEO of the European Centre for Strategic Innovation, flies the flag for an oldie-but-goodie: proposition innovation, which entails developing products and services that aren’t based on consumer feedback or profiles. He cites examples from among Italy’s best-known brands, where innovation comes from deep within the enterprise. “Most companies don’t feel that proposition innovation is effective; that employees are capable of pulling it off; or that it will yield results without links to the outside world,” he writes. “Executives are convinced the process is difficult to replicate because the ‘genius’ model works only in industries where innovation is idiosyncratic and intuition is essential.” Not always so, according to his research. Rangehood producer Elica, he says, has used proposition innovation to create an idea-rich culture that’s led to substantial growth in revenue, market share and staff engagement.