Day Two: “The Consumer Leads Design?”

After watching Charles Leadbeater’s talk on Innovation, I felt inspired to research a few simple questions: Why do people innovate? What motivates people to innovate?

To put it briefly, it’s a fact that people innovate to make profit. If you can make a product better, people will go ahead and buy it. If you can make that product cheaper too, people will be even more inclined to purchase it.

The topic that got me hooked in Leadbeater’s talk was the idea of the consumer leading the charge for innovation. This just baffles me because it makes me think that in order for this to happen the designers are simply not doing their job, and if they aren’t doing their job, what are they doing? One of the crucial, standard steps in the development stage revolves around the people you are designing for, doing the market research for your target audience. But is market research really the answer?

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Because on the other hand, Steve Jobs simply has ignored and objected to market research, relying on his own intuition. He states in a 1985 interview with Playboy “We built [the Mac] for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research.”2 This really surprised me as he was going against the standard norms I have been learning about marketing in general (through Business Studies at school). It made me think, maybe Jobs is one of the lucky ones Leadbeater was speaking about during his talk, the small percentage that happens to get it right and has a revolutionary innovation.

Similarly, Guy Kawasaki also agrees with Jobs’ viewpoint on the consumer. He laughs at the notion of Apple having a market research team, sticking to the fact that the company was driven by Jobs and Woz. According to Kawasaki, asking a consumer what an innovative product is leads to answers such as “Better, faster, and cheaper,”3 which isn’t revolutionary at all, it’s just upgrading the product at hand. Kawasaki’s explanation to me seems more realistic, as this is what I believe the consumer lead innovation at large is doing, which is taking stepping stones from already established products and slightly enhancing them (which is still innovation, just not radical).

References

1. Leander Kahney, (2011), steve-jobs [ONLINE]. Available at: http://cultofmac.cultofmaccom.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/steve-jobs.jpg  [Accessed 26 June 12]

2. Scribd. 1985. Playboy Interview: Steven Jobs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/43945579/Playboy-Interview-With-Steve-Jobs. [Accessed 26 June 12]

3. CNET.com. 2011. What I Learned From Steve jobs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-20117575-37/what-i-learned-from-steve-jobs/. [Accessed 26 June 12]

a) CNET.com. 2011. The 6 Pillars Of Steve Jobs’s Design Philosophy. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665375/the-6-pillars-of-steve-jobss-design-philosophy. [Accessed 26 June 12]

b) Forbes. 2011. 5 Dangerous lessons to Learn From Steve Jobs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2011/10/17/five-dangerous-lessons-to-learn-from-steve-jobs/. [Accessed 26 June 12]

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Design Intervention: Business Innovations: What is it?

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Today started off with a lecture provided by our Subject Coordinator Mukti Bawa, outlining all the essentials, assessment dates and the general program (involving the tutorials and lectures). The lecture was very concise, although I came out not knowing exactly what I was in for- I felt that this subject would turn out to be very business orientated (traditionally) and bland. Well I was surprised when Anna-Lise further explained in greater detail, using her own business as an example, the fact that this subject involved creating ideas and innovations as a group (or “firm”), developing something radical and different (in this subjects case, a design for a new world in 2030).

The one concept that struck a note was from Guy Kawasaki’s video, “The Art of the Start,” highlighting the importance of “making meaning” in your business, the perception of making the world a better place2. It bewildered me since most businesses have their priorities set in making money, which according to Kawasaki is the exact wrong way to go about starting in business. Crafting something new, creating innovation is the key way to go about designing in business, which admittedly is the basis of what I have learnt throughout my Interior design course (the notion of throwing in and out ideas (iteration), instead of playing it safe).

For example, a company like Apple (the definition of innovation) have completely changed the world with smart devices (their iPod and iPad tablets, their desktops and laptops, as well as invading the phone market with their iPhone) creating an experience, catering convenience and able to make the user’s life easier though both their implemented software (iOS) and physical design. Through their innovation and ability to change the world, Apple is able to completely change and enhance their product line from year to year, which results with a very successful business. On the other hand, traditional companies like Nokia and Motorola have diminished over the years, failing to re-invent their mobile devices3. Sure the physical and technical aspects of their devices have progressed, although that fundamental sense of experience and that extra “meaning” hasn’t adjusted to the current market (Symbian OS). They have failed to innovate and have suffered as a business by losing their market share on a global scale.

References:

1. YouTube. (2009). Guy Kawasaki presents ‘The Art of the Start’ for Informatics Ventures. [Online Video]. 20 July. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8X57eucxnI. [Accessed: 25 June 2012].

2. Forbes. 2011. The Significance of Ericsson’s Departure from Handsets. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/darcytravlos/2011/10/31/the-significance-of-ericcsons-departure-from-handsets/. [Accessed 25 June 12].

3. Jamil Arif, (2010), Nokia vs. Apple [ONLINE]. Available at: http://telecomnewspk.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/nokia-n8-vs-iphone-41.jpg  [Accessed 25 June 12].