I am in the middle of reading a fascinating book by David and Tom Kelley – two brothers who have spearheaded IDEO, one of the world’s leading innovation and design firms. David is also the creator of d.school at Stanford University – which teaches design thinking – a unique multi-disciplinary approach to innovation.
So why am I writing about innovation in a technology blog – because we at BTC live and breathe it with numerous Entrepreneurs and Enterprises who we work with – to bring their ideas and innovations to reality. We are their technology partners and their sound boards as they work to bring their ideas to market – experimenting, testing, implementing and repeating.
David and Tom talk about three factors that are critical to balance for every innovation program – technical, business and human factors. Making sure that an idea is technically feasible (can existing and emerging technologies support it in such a way that it can actually be productized?) and economically viable (can it be brought to market in a cost effective way and is there a business model that can sustain it in long term?) is critical. These are some of the first conversations we have when we are approached by someone who just had her ‘aha’ moment. But there is a third critical element involved – truly understanding the needs of the people for whom the product is being designed for, by not just observing behaviors but also exploring their motivations and core beliefs.
How do they perceive certain product and how will they react when they encounter a different experience with that product or a completely new product?
Just because a product is technically feasible and economically viable to develop doesn’t mean it will be accepted and be a success – unless it meets real needs and desires of your targeted customers. A case in point – there are close to 40,000 Healthcare Apps in the App store(s) today – over 60% of them have less than 500 downloads. WhatsApp became the success it did not just because it cracked the technical challenge of cross-platform mobile messaging but more so because it satisfied a basic human need – to easily connect and communicate with anyone anywhere.
Every successful app story has significant human factors involved – intentional or not. But as David and and Tom point out successful innovations rely on some element of human-centered design research while balancing the technology and business elements. You can leave it to chance but your idea for the next great product – be it a cool app or a new candy bar will have a better chance of success if you gave equal attention to the human factors.
What does your innovation process look like? Do you have the flexibility to make it a human-centered process or are you bogged down by the top-down solely data driven centrally dictated process? I would love to hear your stories and thoughts.
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