I really like this overview of the creation of the Pulse iPad app. Written by Lisa Katayama of Fast Company, it succinctly captures the big things you have to do to bring something remarkable to market. I especially appreciate the second of the five ways noted in the article:
Define: Are you focused and open to what your team
needs in order to thrive? Define your personal point of view in pursuing
your venture, and then think about what your end user, your team, and
your business need. Even if your end goal is to reach all 6.7 billion
inhabitants of the earth with your product or service, key in on a niche
user to start and identify what works best for him. By observing and
empathizing with the tech geek, for example, Kothari and Gupta were able
to define his need: a better way to catch up with older news and other
treasures that might get buried in linear feeds like Google Reader or
Over the past year, I've outlined 18 of the 21 principles of innovation I've been hacking on. The nineteenth principle happens to be "Have a point of view", and I think the expression of this principle above is just wonderful. Knowing what you stand for, and what you don't, and what is important, and what is not, is fundamental. Without that knowledge, I believe it is impossible to manage the tensions that come with bringing something new to life. Having a point of view not only helps you make decisions, it helps increase the odds that you'll make good decisions -- at least decisions that will feel good to the people you're designing for. I suppose I should get my act together and write up those last three innovation principles...
I also dig this article because of what it says about the Stanford d.school. First, I have to give a tip of my hat to my friends and colleagues Michael Dearing and Perry Klebahn, who created and taught the Launch Pad class wherein Pulse was created and launched. They're incredible guys, and I consider myself very lucky to get to learn from them on a routine basis. Second, when George Kembel and I wrote up the "napkin manifesto" for the d.school back in 2004, we had a vision of using "... design thinking to inspire multidisciplinary teams". We thought it would be cool if the next pair of Hewlett and Packard, Filo and Yang, or Sergey and Larry found each other via the d.school. Now, I'm not saying the Pulse is the new Yahoo, but it's very satisfying to see people at the d.school meeting each other, learning with each other, and working together to bring things to life which make a real impact out in the world.
I'm always looking for feedback on my evolving list of innovation principles. What works? What doesn't? What's missing?
Last year Esquire ran this list of aphorisms from the mind of J Mays. I've been holding on to this list since then, and this afternoon I took another look at it. Seeing them afresh made me feel that a few fell naturally into some of my framework of innovation principles. Is it narcissistic to take the thoughts of another person and put them into buckets of your own making? Yeah, probably.
Anyway, here I go... thinking by Mays, buckets by Rodriguez:
"A designer is
only as good as what he or she knows. If all you know is what you've
garnered from fifteen years of living in Detroit, it's going to limit
what you can lay down. If you've had experiences around the world,
you'll be able to design a much richer story for people to enjoy."
"What does the cutlerylook
like? What's the plate look like? How's the food laid out on the plate?
Has the environment been completely thought through? Part of the reason
I go to a nice restaurant is to get the entire vibe."
"There have beenmore
not-quite-right Mustangs than Mustangs. It had gone a little bit off the
rails in the seventies, came back in the eighties, and went a little
off the rails in the nineties. We did a lot of research before we
designed the 2005, and we came to the conclusion that the ones that were
really important, the ones that everybody logged in their heart, were
between '64 and '70. I wanted the 2005 to feel like we were picking up
in '71. So I basically erased thirty-five years of Mustangs in order to
get the story focused in everybody's mind again."
"Clichés aremore correct than we give them credit for."
Principle 20: Be remarkable
"Believe it or not, there's an art to plowing a
field. My father had an exact way he wanted it done, a laser-straight
line over the length of the field. I just had to train my eye. If you
lay out the first line wrong, then all the other lines that you disc
will turn out crooked. There was a precision in those fields that I took
into automotive design."