Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Jawbone UP, UP and away innovation?

Recently the Jawbone UP has been released and among a flash of controversy the general review is the same, no Bluetooth causes it's demise. Fast Company Design says yes. But does it? No.

What typical innovation but more specifically NPD experts know is that version 1 is seldom "the breaker." Now what is important is that "breaking" is the key to innovation as described by Schumpeter who is the originator of the word and the specifier. Did iTunes break the model of music distribution? Yes. Is Jawbone's UP breaking the model of sleep management and training? No. Therefore there is no other way than to wait for version 2 to determine UP's validity and efficacy.
As early as 2006 previous research with Fujistu the OM system was developed to address the same problems and that of e-health. The result, a fully integrated system for the “gaming” of heath and monitoring, but far too ahead of the marketplace.

Does this mean UP is a failure? Hardly. Looking at the competitors there is little cause for alarm and certainly UP v1 will not be the last we see of the product. The big question is, can they crack the Bluetooth issue? Should they NEED to? No there are better interface solutions. Will the public accept that? Here is the question to be answered.

Friday, 9 December 2011

design R&D means whole new classes of ROI

Often it is the simplest of design queues that can transform an entire category of objects and object interaction. Take for instance the square slide model, which can be seen on the new class of windows phones as well as PULSE the rss news reader developed by alphonso labs and 1st debuted by Steve Jobs for the iPad2 launch.

Originally "designed" possibly as early as 2000 w/Fukawasa's info bar phone which is now in the MOMA collection uses a particular design aesthetic which now drives a newer version of the phone and which dovetails into the slide interface model which has been patented, licensed and of course now protects a substantial ROI for the companies involved in the commercialization of the design.

The complete article here has an excellent video in Japanese of the InfoBar phone and the UI interface along with the original designs and background. Summary: Design &D leads to proper ROI when combined with IP protection steps and a continuing commitment to new product development rollout.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Good Design = Good Business

So what does good design do for business? Does it increase sales? Develop awareness? Build Loyalty? Or more importantly, create permanent memories in the minds of those who use the designs a company produced to the point where that company's products become synonymous with "good"

With the work of the TLS system, an new design and manufacturing capability was investigated, a new design direction determined and sales and marketing was brought into the fold to determine if a completely new product could be launched.

In the Article "Good Design = Good Business" details of how, when and why this is the case, but simplification isn't enough and Thomas Lockwood, quite the industry luminary gives a decent review of why. The comments generated however, far outstrip the articles initial intent giving an excellent review of alternative models for "good" and of course "bad" design.

Monday, 31 October 2011

a 50M investment for a "beautiful" US designed thermostat?

Revolution is not a rare thing in a US startup. Change the rules. "Innovation." ALL of these philosophies are vocabularies that firm speaks of in the new millenium. But not design. And certainly not from day 1. Unless of course you have been indoctrinated at the US's pinnacle firm: Apple.

Nest Labs new Thermostat, yes a thermostat is doing just this. And with a $50M investment they are definatley not just sketching warm and fuzzy duvets. Designed by the same lead designers of the iPAD and iPOD there is no doubt in the end products beauty and functionality. Even the website is spectacular in it's simplicity and beauty.

How did they do it? Pure European design philosophy - the American's are truly catching on. “I want it to be a jewel on the wall so that it’s a conversation piece. People come over and they go, ‘What’s that on your wall?’ and you go, ‘Oh, you’ve got to check this out.’ If it can invite conversation, we think we’re going to be able to drive awareness. We’re going to drive more interest, and people will actually save energy.” And so it is.

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Friday, 28 October 2011

Design requires breakthroughs, Longevity requires cults!

We're often asked, if design is so important what stops design itself from being corrupted? It's simple. Cults. And good design and it is as simple as that.

Take for example the work of Bang & Olufsen and it's consistent commitment to design not only from aesthetics but in their focus to create a following of loyal users and buyers who have no issue with the prices due to the longevity of the items themselves - the whole point to ownership. In the Can the Cult of Bang & Olufsen Last? in Wired magazine, Rob Walker identifies and details the value and desire of consumers for B&O products - for the brand. What is forgotten is why. Because good design creates identity and identity creates memory, "That CD player looks like something from Buck Rogers’ bachelor pad in New Chicago. In fact, for much of B&O’s 86-year history, a common compliment — and complaint — has been how much its products resemble props in sci-fi films." and therefore instant value has been established.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

MAKE IT HAPPEN! - Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship - Innovation from Within

Today we deliver a presentations called "MAKE IT HAPPEN! - Launching the "New" as Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs" at London's newest 50M funded Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award winning design school Ravensbourne located at the hub of the 2012 Olympics.

Some helpful "Tools of Preparation" links for MAKE IT HAPPEN! are:
1) AVC.com and specifically the incredible Moneyball for Startups discuss on "....when a great entrepreneur walks into our door, we will recognize him or her..."
2) The rules of the game and avoiding the pitfalls of startup failures The Startup Genome Project Report
3) How to protect what isn't even yours yet - HBS case study: X-IT v.s Kidde final settlement details
4) And simply knowing, "Do you have what it takes?" The Innovators DNA
5) As shown by the master Sharon Wright on Dragons Den

We're sure it's going to be a lively discussion as startup groups are never a boring set of moments!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Full innovation: Pull=Align, Push=Create

Recently an article in Harvard Business review titled, "Aligning with the Consumer Decision Journey" discussed the value of "the loyalty loop" and it's value to the firms core ethos. Oddly however this is only 1 of two or more basic models. In short it is the corner stone of the quite valuable factor of: "the customer is always right" an adage that creates incredible loyalty in its own right. The question however is what value is asking groups who are primarily basing the understanding of "new" as an extension of the old. Aligning then is a pull strategy.

Alternatively, and quite rightly so, a push model, suggests the "eat what you are given" model which often delivers greater "newness" but also at the expense and responsibility of the delivering organization to continue to innovate from within. Aligning with the consumer can then become another mechanism for tired design and complacency. The difference is in the listening.

Aligning with the consumer can be viewed as a mechanism for outsourcing "newness" to the group - that the social consensus holds more collective vision than a core team of specialized creators - the European model. Oddly, from within the design world: aesthetics, visual direction, and even in many cases functionality, specialized creators vastly push father than collective alignment.

Simply the innovation cycle comes from listening , aligning, pulling, but 1st from creating, pushing and researching, requiring development, investment and careful deployment. Social media is not the answer, but primarily a listening step in the direction of true breakthroughs=innovation via researching, development and ultimately creation and deployment.

Friday, 26 August 2011

"design" innovation in 7 laws?

where his breakdown occured including Phil's "Rule of 18" - the typical investment cycle for "innovation" inside a firm. Oddly, and yet again, business marketing and design vocabulary become mangled.

What Phil is actually speaking about is product development and at best NPD or New Product Development cycles. In his podcast "Measuring Innovation" his metrics, models and philosophy are right from MBA and design textbooks on how to launch products. More Phil goes on to say, "metrics ... made clear during the recent earnings call were surrounding sales figures, short-term milestones that the TouchPad did not hit. The one simple metric determined an entire program's success (or failure, in this instance)." which oddly ignored all together the patent, legal and corporate ramifications leaving us to ask, now is "INNOVATION" the scapegoat.
Design, Engineering, R&D, and New Product Development are all portions of AN innovation which is still defined correctly by Joseph Shumpter and recently refined by Clay Christensens's disruptive innovation models focusing on the phrase "creative disruption", which certainly we cannot see HP's tablet as being. The iPAD yes. The HP tablet no - regardless of corporate marketing.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Design Thinking - the ABC's in a nicely packaged movie

Often the reality of design thinking is labeled as a secondary thought to the organizational functions of who you are working for -read your organization, who you are serving -read your boss, or who you are selling to -read your customers. The difference between creative innovation, breakthrough projects and the all powerful ROI is constantly ignored as working together and necessary to work together in order to make game changing product. 

Finally it seems there is a movie, "Design Thinking" and with it all the basics and a few nooks and crannies that any CEO can grab a few new tricks from. While looking to the "experts" over and over again only proves to show that they did do it in the past, the film also takes quite a bit of time investigating and talking to those who are doing it now. Their fate is sealed as "successful" or "successors" it gives all the necessary value from a 2 minute trailer.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The PreCog's at Ebay's PreViz Hive

In the future forward film Minority Report, the PreCogs organized themselves as a hive mind with the capability to pre-perceive events that were to take place allowing for crime to be eliminated. While firms usually form R&D labs to create further innovations, design "groups" have also been used to focus and develop scenarios, testing environments and ultimately prototypes of goods and services that can be evaluated for next generation breakthroughs.

MIT's media lab, London's RCA IDE program and private initiatives such as Ebay's PreViz group do just that. More the lessons learned from Ebay's group are some of the basic building blocks for the development of consistent innovations similar to what GE, XEROX PARC, AT&T, etc., have been doing for years.

These programs and the internal mechanisms used in these groups are the building blocks of a firms capability to stay ahead of competitors and ultimately the marketplace. Firms consistantly staying on the cutting edge therefore are poised for growth by delighting customers with functionality BEFORE it is even requested or understood as valuable by the customer - one of the best definitions of innovation.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Design in the Boardroom

Today an interesting article became available regarding design and the boardroom. From the perspective of "newness" it is the design team the defines this. Some have also argued that it comes from the marketing team, and the sales team and yes it does. However the larger question, and most often overlooked is for what TIME FRAME do these two departments have influence over product offerings and to what level of effectiveness do these teams contribute to the longevity of a firms position in the market.

The simple argument, the COO is responsible as CMO and CTO functions reporting into the COO are effectively combined with design to form the basis for timely development. HOWEVER shifts have begun to emerge in many firms where positions such as the Head of Global Product Development are being offered seats at the board for the simple purpose of expanding the often limited scope of the 6mo, 1yr, and 2yr strategic plans typical when COO, CTO and CMO discussions are had at the board level. This ISDA article on Design in the Boardroom sets a good indication of how this is happening.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

tiny design, BIG INNOVATION

Design and the conversion of design into "innovation" isn't always about the economic impact a particular product has or the market that it develops, rather it can also be about the tacit nudge a new product makes within a product line.

Take Peepster for instance a tiny little camera cute as a gumby and simple as a point and shoot Walmart disposable. Ultimate value? Well expensive, and it is used for spying purposes but it's impact on design as well as other products that can be generated from it serves it's purpose. 

ROI is seldom forgotten within the funding and development models for new products but aesthetically little gems like this shouldn't be ignored. 

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Friday, 27 May 2011

Entrepreneurs, "good design" & true innovation

There is no one better than the master - Dieter Rams to explain "good design" and how it makes world changing companies, e.g. Oliveti, AG, Braun, etc., into international powerhouses. Design leads the way. 

Although his words cannot be challenged ( because his work literally created the ethos for these firms and whose impact continues to create value for these firms today ) however what can be understood is that consistent design, that is the key. The Rams aesthetic in it's marvelous distinction, never wavered from it's roots and in that a design language and ethos was born. It is however not the only voice and because of it's specificity it's vocabulary and visual accent lives on . This 3 minute video explains it all.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Misnomers - The "Science" of "Good" Design

It isn't too far to stretch to assume that "science" has an answer for everything - when of course we are talking about physical objects, warp drive, or the newest Porsche 4 track steering system. The big question facing new product development is "why you want it" and for that there is no answer.

The recent article in The Atlantic "The Science of Good Design" makes a very clear case why this is a fallacy and one which more of your colleagues believe than you think. Why? Because design required ego, a masters touch, and a definitive determination of what is valuable that cannot be defined by market research studies or focus groups. Why?

Consumers consume, masters create for consumers. This is the secret of amazing design, and yet the hardest factor for companies and corporations to embrace. Unless of course you are Ferrari or Alessi. Then again, they use focus groups every now and then as well.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

mass customization = innovation and pure design

The Milan furniture fair is one of the largest worldwide design events spanning everything from office, home, lighting as well as new product development. The biggest names in design from every continent arrive and for 7 solid days it is the hub of innovation.

The largest firms are present with some quite intense "breakthroughs" of design and engineering thinking - the kinds of things you won't see in you home for 5 years - 3 to be agressive. Companies like Whirpool and Aston Martin for interiors but not even limited to that as they unveil their new Cygnet at the wallpaper event. Salone is not just for furniture or design it is where some of the next big products get launched for a truly international audience

But this is often regarded as the more artistic side. So what happens when the worlds of mass customization and art come together? Projects like SketchChair are born and as reported by Fast Company. Not only can this be considered "design" is a relative sense, but the fact that upon paying for your design it is flat shipped to you. CNC and laser cut this is just another example of how consumer art in the future may be delivered to clients. Nike and many other companies have experimented with this as micro customization for some time addiding even more to the visibility of their innovator status.

Monday, 4 April 2011

ROI and "good design"

A constant question asked both in the executive education work that we do, the client drawing table, board room and around the office is "what is good design" and what is "design innovation" - a quite loaded phrase these days.

The answer, is one most may not agree with as it is a question - "what are the criteria" and none better seem to review and understand this as the "Good Design Awards" started more than 50+ years go and which is now taking applications for the 2011 award.

What is important to note is that the jury is truly an international body composed of the 3 most basic areas: design, engineering and finance. Their criteria for review is nothing short of a mystery, by voting and peer review. Their numerical review is not published and the process is as comprehensive as it is complicated in the same way as a VC funding review. What IS important is to note that no one area takes precedent: design, engineering & manufacturing or finance & ROI nor is this limited to the scope of "is this beneficial" to the company that produced the work.

What IS important is the fact (which cannot be easily seen from the results of the award) is the creativity and value that the design brings above and beyond what exists in the market, e.g. the competition to the product that has been designed and released. THIS is the true value of design and potentially the underlying value of the award itself and should be noted as you look through the many categories of fine output.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Innovation never stops when you are MIT

In a recent article MIT has been credited with creating the 1st reusable and stable "living leaf" capable of full photosynthesis and able to generate power. www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-03/28/artificial-leaf

While this may seen an incredible feat of science the technology was readily available in the past. The process to commercialize it and more, make it stable for mass production is the center-point for the innovation cycle. In many ways, which is highly ignored, 1st to market, or 1st to science in the case of the credited inventor of the earliest working designs does NOT = the person or firm being given credit or even economic benefit for the success of the work/innovation/design.

Here MIT demonstrates that the process is the point and the innovation is the end result of the effort from discovery through to commercialization. Not to mention a sizable economic benefit from the entire process when handled correctly.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Creating a Culture of Innovation

The development of a new product "innovation" is on the beginning for firms who are interested in continual sales and market interaction. Customers are constantly switching to competitors due to the seemingly effortless ability to change their minds and at the click of a button go to a new experience. Marketers and CEO's alike understand the switching costs are no longer costs, they are switching thoughts - infinitesimally small costs.

An interesting place to start digging into this is with an article by the Gallup Group on Creating a Culture of Innovation. While basic, it is an excellent primer on how to begin the journey.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Normal photos become 3D products instantly.

With the consistent evolution of new technologies and the ubiquitous handheld platforms researchers are putting into the hands of ordinary people applications capable of "instant" design. The new Microsoft Research Labs 3D iPhone scanner literally allows for on the fly stitching and rendering of complex objects. The whole technology can be seen here.....

What this means for clients and end consumers is the ability to snap photos, scan, render, send and then manipulate physical objects for the comparison and possible re-engineering into other products. Add the capability of Rapid Prototyping and new products (skins specifically) happen immediately. Companies now have to contend with anyone taking a photo of a competitors tea cup, send it to a Indonesian designer, re-interpret the design, have it produced in China and out to market in 30 days. And there is no slow down in sight

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

"Innovation" is not just for R&D labs

Innovation is a completely loaded word these days, and more, undecipherable from the original definitions created by Joseph Alois Schumpeter in early 1900's. Oddly these definitions are the exact ones that firms are forgetting when discussing how they can further develop their organizations "innovation" competency as well as new product development pipeline.
In an effort to bring this more to the public eye, The Cooper Hewitt Design Museum has once again began to round out their design triennial by detailing products and firms who are not only redeploying existing aesthetic models but utilizing modern day engineering and production capabilities to further create value for the firms that they sell into thus creating new value chain possibilities and therefore creating innovations. An example of this is the Mango Wood Radio  which at first glance might not impress. However, the reach of the product, price-point, aesthetic and over all strategy that the client had to create the product is the exact example of how breakthroughs happen and similarly how iGNITIATE can do the same for your firm.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Exploring Consumer Perceptions Of Product Innovativeness


Understanding how ratings systems and how they impact the data and perceptions of performance is they key to new product launches. Exploring Consumer Perceptions Of Product Innovativeness details a rating system to defines product innovativeness (PI) serving as a benchmark in order to assess other perspectives on product innovativeness, especially from the consumer angle. When it comes to details, empirical evidence is always an excellent way to NPD efficacy.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Integrate design in the product development process for increased ROI in company performance.


How does design impact a product’s ROI? More than you think. Via 2 different Dutch manufacturing industries – home furniture and precision instruments empirical evidence shows selected firms increasing ROI directly – an emerging trend in precision industries. These findings in an excellent article to purchase show that industrial design had a direct and positive effect on company performance, especially with new innovations for industries concluding that “industrial design” itself can be taken to a managerial level to include design strategy which is the basis for increased ROI on a firms full level of market performance and investability.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Innovation Speed: It’s got to happen fast.


For a comprehensive review on the research and literature surrounding innovation speed,  Innovation Speed: A Conceptual Model of Context, Antecedents, and Outcomes details a comprehensive guide to increasing the speed of innovation (a positive impact on performance/ROI) and ways to have it effected organizational structures assuring a quantifiably impression the overall success for a product and development of new firms.