Friday, 26 October 2012

Focus Groups Kill Innovation? Half Empty Half Full.

We've all heard the phrase, the glass is half empty or half full depending on how you look at it. True. But what if the customer isn't thirsty? 

In the case of Focus Groups and the Innovation Engine in the recent article in Fast Company, naturally, once again the definition of innovation is forgotten and Joseph Schumpeter is spinning because the underlying assumption is that customers naturally know what they want, can articulate it, and or want to. The later part is the key to this article and many others related to demand, elastic price demand determination of innovations, and of course ignoring design, design art and if customers know what they want before it is even presented. 

Regardless, the key is, and always has been, what if the customer is not thirsty for it, for a new product innovation, a new glass a new car, a new anything. Will any focus group help this? 

Yes. No. Who knows. But surely ideas and innovations come from people. Individuals. Groups. And without focus of some sort, no new innovations come into existence. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Richard Branson Gets Design does your firm?

Recently at an meeting with senior level managers at a large USA based multinational firm, the question was asked, which of these names do you recognize: Picasso, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Phillippe Starck, Charles Eames, Frank Gehry, Giorgio Armani, and about 10 others. The overwhelming score, less than 30%. Then the women in the room were asked. The score jumped to over 80%. When the names of contemporary international designers were added again, the scores where miniscule, yet again, the women scored significantly higher. Why? Does design not matter in the America's? No, but it is certainly  not as important as in Europe and unless you are a branded international design super star, you name is not likely to ring very loudly in the America's. 

In a recent interview Richard Branson details some of the reasons why design matter and who he's working with. Can the CEO and C-Level executives at your firm say the same? How embedded is the design process in how your firm conceptualizes, and launches new products? And clearly, are they any where near as integrated and sexy as Virgin? Just take a look at the typical interiors of their planes, trains and of course advertising. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Additive Manufacturing, Means Design Breakthroughs

Paper or Plastic? Three objects changed your entire working life and you don't even know it: the IBM 3800 Laser printer in 1976? The Hewlett Packard DeskJet in 1988? 1984's 3D System Corp's "One" 3D printer, and now it's changing again with Additive Manufacturing and it's a 3 Billion dollar industry. Artisan sculpting and design with paper, plastic, molds, etc, as a function to product development and expect that rapid prototyping as the last step? And it can be, but integrated design, engineering and output effects every firm that operates in the step to expect the but how does this effect any new product development.