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?
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).
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]