innovation archives
“Subjecting all designs to usability studies before shipping is prudent risk-management.
Radical innovation is extremely risky. Yes, you might invent the next iPhone. But you’re more likely to invent the next Newton.”
From a good article by Jakob Nielsen on
A/B Testing, Usability Engineering, Radical Innovation: What Pays Best?
The contrasts between A/B testing, usability activities, and just turning a genius loose to invent the next Big Thing are clearly drawn. I would temper Nielsen’s position a bit by emphasizing his final point—that there’s no reason you have to pick just one. If you have a genius on staff, subjecting his ideas to A/B testing and usability testing will only polish his or her brilliance to an even greater sheen…

posted by ted 3 hours ago

“The problem with business today isn’t a lack of innovation; it’s a lack of empathy.”
Great quote by Dev Patnaik, cited in a UX Booth article called
Invisible Armor: Protecting Your Empathy at Work.
I enjoyed this (sometimes corny) article and related to a lot of the points.

posted by ted on Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012

“The most profound thing is that when something crazy happened, they paid attention. They didn’t throw the idea away as most of us would.”
Scott Berkun on the “accidental invention” of Post-it Notes, Nutrisweet, and other cool stuff, in a really good post on the importance of working hard and paying attention.

Innovation is not Luck, even when it seems like it.

posted by ted on Monday, Jan 30, 2012

“Count this “guru” as caring less about what’s new and more about what works. (If it happens to be new and works better than what came before, then I’ll be the first to add my praise.)”
Mark Hurst, in
Using what you have (and when to change)

posted by ted on Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012

“Design, stripped to its essence, can be defined as the human capacity to make our environment in ways without precedent in nature, to serve our needs, and give us meaning in our lives.”
Enjoyed this quote this morning by John Heskett in his book Toothpicks and Logos.

posted by wade on Friday, Jun 25, 2010

““Good” beats “Innovative” nearly every time. An obsession with innovation leads executives down the wrong path. Just trying to be good would be a smarter focus.”
Former colleague Scott Berkun in a recent Business Week article. Before objecting, read the whole article; innovation will happen, but not if that is the primary goal. The primary goal should be to produce Something Good. If innovation is required to get there—great! But if there are tried and true solutions, all the better.

posted by ted on Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill.
They want a quarter-inch hole.”
Theodore Levitt, quoted in The Innovator’s Solution, sequel to The Innovator’s Dilemma, both recommended to me by John as I’m in the early stages of defining what a proposed product should do.

Timely reminder that customers “hire a product to do a job,” not to fill a slot on their shelf reserved for an artificial product category. (Of course they don’t really just want a hole; they want to build something, drain something, see through something, etc. We need to get down to real intents and desired outcomes, or we’ll never understand what we should build to meet real needs.)

posted by ted on Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009

“How important is the voice of the customer? Very. But discerning the difference between what customers are able to say and what they want, and then acting on those unspoken desires, demands that companies learn to go well beyond listening.”
Dorothy Leonard, speaking of the importance of focusing on observation and desired outcomes rather than specific customer-proposed solutions, in “The Limitations of Listening,” Harvard Business Review, January 2002.

posted by ted on Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009

A slide from Daniel Burka’s April 2008 Future of Web Design presentation, called “Iteration & You”, and it looks like a good deck of inspiring slides (except for the Cameron one).

posted by jason on Thursday, Sep 25, 2008

“What creates success isn’t raw innovation, it’s considered design.”
Alan Cooper

posted by kaleb on Tuesday, Sep 16, 2008

Scott Berkun will have his TV debut as an expert panelist in a series of 5 episodes on The Business of Innovation starting tonight. Scott’s a great speaker, design & usability advocate, and all-around good guy. Good luck as a talking head, Scott!

posted by ted on Monday, Jun 02, 2008

Creativity: It’s Nothing New

In a recent article, Scott Berkun outlines some thoughts about innovation that have also been brought up often in recent team discussions. The bottom line of both the article and our discussions is that effective creativity (as opposed to self-expression) is not usually something 100% original, but an arrangement of existing parts or ideas in novel ways. What’s often required to solve a problem is not “original genius,” but curiosity, keen observation, and persistence.

Here are some key quotes from Scott’s excellent article :

posted by ted on Monday, Mar 17, 2008

“There is yet another problem: the curse of individuality. Designers have to make an individual stamp, their mark, their signature. And if different companies manufacture the same type of item, each must do it differently to allow for its product to be distinguished from the others’. A mixed curse, individuality, for through the desire to be different come some of our best ideas and innovations. But in the world of sales, if a company were to make the perfect product, any other company would have to change it—which would make it worse—in order to promote its own innovation, to show that it was different. How can natural design work under these circumstances? It can’t.”
From the book, “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman speaking about the forces that work against evolutionary design

posted by rick on Tuesday, Aug 28, 2007

The Intersection of Inspiration and Innovation

(Re-posted by request.) One of the neat things about working for the Church is that every once in a while, you get to hear how the systems you help develop are used by the Church’s general authorities.

In March 2007, the New Era magazine published an entire issue dedicated to helping young men and women prepare spiritually and practically to serve a mission for the Church. One of the articles describes how a prospective missionary can fill out the required paperwork, using a web application developed and deployed in the past few years.

A sidebar in the same article describes how Elder Henry B. Eyring records new missionary assignments as given to him by the Spirit:

All my life, from the time I have been a young boy and as far back as I can remember, I have had experiences feeling of the Holy Ghost. … But I’ve never felt what I have felt as I have … participated in the assigning of missionaries. …

We go into a room, and … it will be a two-or three-hour session and sometimes longer. Because of technology, it is possible for us to have your picture and the information about you displayed. And then quickly, on that same screen, all the missions of the Church with all of their needs are displayed. Within minutes, and sometimes less than a minute, the impression comes so powerfully that it would be, if it were a single instance, something that you would never forget. Can you imagine sitting there for hours at a time, having that happen time after time without interruption? I testify to you that it is real. …

In a world so large, the Creator … somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.

Working on cool technology is one thing. Working on cool technology that’s used to further the work of the Lord is something else.

And knowing that the software you work on is being used by an apostle under inspired circumstances like this is priceless.

posted by ted on Monday, Jul 30, 2007

“Innovation is overrated. Customers don’t care about how innovative you are. They just want to be happy and satisfied. And that’s about good design.”
Scott Berkun, discussing his new book with UIE

posted by ted on Thursday, Jul 26, 2007

Check out BJ Fogg’s Seven steps to institutional innovation. OK, so the page isn’t pretty, but this is good advice. I also highly recommend BJ’s book, Persuasive Technology.

posted by ted on Thursday, Nov 09, 2006

Be innovative. As we work to magnify our callings, we should seek the inspiration of the Spirit to solve problems in ways that will best help the people we serve. ... The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard

posted by ted on Monday, Oct 23, 2006