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What Is Innovation — Really?

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What Is Innovation — Really?

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Innovation is one of the ultimate buzzwords of our era but what is it really? What is its meaning? How can we see it? Replicate it? Scale it? In his talk, I propose that innovation really is the “removal of friction” from a system; and that through this lens we can understand the rise of design, lean startup, Silicon Valley and possibly many other innovative happenings across time.

The talk covers the following topics:

1. The Real Lesson Steve Jobs Taught Us
2. The Rise of Design
3. Innovation = The Removal Of Friction?
4. Co-opting Innovation

Innovation is one of the ultimate buzzwords of our era but what is it really? What is its meaning? How can we see it? Replicate it? Scale it? In his talk, I propose that innovation really is the “removal of friction” from a system; and that through this lens we can understand the rise of design, lean startup, Silicon Valley and possibly many other innovative happenings across time.

The talk covers the following topics:

1. The Real Lesson Steve Jobs Taught Us
2. The Rise of Design
3. Innovation = The Removal Of Friction?
4. Co-opting Innovation

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What Is Innovation — Really?

  1. 1. What is Innovation – Really?
  2. 2. Use of ‘innovation’ and ‘Innovation” over time
  3. 3. What I’ll Cover 1. The Real Lesson Steve Jobs Taught Us 2. The Rise of Design 3. Innovation = The Removal Of Friction? 4. Co-opting Innovation
  4. 4. The Real Lesson Steve Jobs Taught Us
  5. 5. “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
  6. 6. “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
  7. 7. Q: Did you do consumer research on the iMac when you were developing it? A: No. We have a lot of customers, and we have a lot of research into our installed base. We also watch industry trends pretty carefully. But in the end, for something this complicated, it's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why a lot of people at Apple get paid a lot of money, because they're supposed to be on top of these things.
  8. 8. Product innovation doesn’t come from a lone genius. It comes from the customer.
  9. 9. What happens if you listen to your customers without understanding their pain while having an eye on the state-of-the-art? “Pulling a Ballmer”
  10. 10. “The reason [for why great companies failed] is that good management itself was the root cause. Managers played the game the way it was supposed to be played. The very decision-making and resource-allocation processes that are key to the success of established companies are the very processes that reject disruptive technologies: listening carefully to customers; tracking competitors’ actions carefully; and investing resources to design and build higher-performance, higher-quality products that will yield greater profit. These are the reasons why great firms stumbled or failed when confronted with disruptive technological change.” ― Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business
  11. 11. Product innovation doesn’t just happen in the product. It happens across the entire customer value stream.
  12. 12. “We actually got rid of 70% of the stuff in the product roadmap. I couldn’t figure out the damn product line after a few weeks. I kept saying ‘What is this model? How does it fit? I started talking to customers, and they couldn’t figure it out either.” – Steve Jobs, on his return to Apple and the launch of the Think Different campaign.
  13. 13. “We have not kept up with innovations in our distribution…we’ve got anywhere from 2–3 months of inventory in our manufacturing supplier pipeline and about an equal amount in our distribution channel pipeline. So we’re having to make guesses four, five, six months in advance of what the customer wants. And we’re not smart enough to do that; I don’t think Einstein’s smart enough to do that. So what we’re going to do is get really simple and start taking inventory out of those pipelines so we can let the customer tell us what they want and we can respond to it super fast.” – Steve Jobs, on his return to Apple and the launch of the Think Different campaign.
  14. 14. Innovation can, and should occur across, the entire customer experience.
  15. 15. The Rise of Design How the global shift to a digital service industry has elevated and now venerated “innovation”
  16. 16. SOURCE: As Goes Apple, So Goes The Nation: Jobs In The Digital Service Economy
  17. 17. Every company is a service company. Every company is a software company.
  18. 18. Software is easy, people are hard.
  19. 19. You need to find the problem before you solve the problem.
  20. 20. Innovation = The Removal of Friction?
  21. 21. “Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company: Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time… Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.” — Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter and Medium
  22. 22. You should always start from the user’s journey. Hint: It doesn’t begin at the login screen.
  23. 23. 1. It doesn’t focus on or even suggest solution 2. It is validated against real people and their problems 3. It is a living document and your understanding of the customer should evolve Three aspects of a good user journey
  24. 24. blog.rangle.io/clarity-canvas
  25. 25. What is Clarity Canvas? Workshop to align team with the goals and priorities for the project through a series of focused discussions. ● Project goals - What outcomes do you want to achieve, as a result of completing this project successfully? ● Target users and stakeholders - Whose goals & concerns do we need to address to make this project successful? ● User journey - Starting with the highest priority goal of the highest priority end-user, create a User Journey Map. ● Assumptions and Risks - Outline any assumptions, risks and a mitigation plan
  26. 26. http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920033851.do
  27. 27. http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920033851.do Just get the book. User Story Mapping Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product By Jeff Patton Publisher: O'Reilly Media
  28. 28. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/journey-mapping-ux-practitioners
  29. 29. 😄 😠 Need to get to a party Have no car so I call a cab Told cab will arrive in 5 mins but it never shows Call cab company and get a different operator
  30. 30. 😄 😠 Need to get to a party Have no car so I call a cab Told cab will arrive in 5 mins but it never shows Call cab company and get a different operator Focus on solving for this stuff
  31. 31. Source: User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton
  32. 32. You should always start from the user’s journey. Customer experience is the competitive advantage.
  33. 33. WARNING: If you’re spending too much time design the deliverables you’re probably doing it wrong.
  34. 34. Don’t stop at Low-Fidelity. Go for No-Fidelity.
  35. 35. Digital transformation is about people.
  36. 36. Co-opting Innovation
  37. 37. The language of innovation is suspect.
  38. 38. Doug Evans, the company’s founder (Juicero), would compare himself with Steve Jobs in his pursuit of juicing perfection. He declared that his juice press wields four tons of force— “enough to lift two Teslas,” he said. Google’s venture capital arm and other backers poured about $120 million into the startup. Juicero sells the machine for $400, plus the cost of individual juice packs delivered weekly. Tech blogs have dubbed it a “Keurig for juice.”
  39. 39. You might just create more problems than you solve.
  40. 40. Dedicated to:
  41. 41. Be thoughtful. Don’t make shit.” — @mikecostanzo “
  42. 42. medium.com/@lustandfury
  43. 43. THANK YOU!

Editor's Notes

  • It’s interesting that the rise of computers and digital technology, in the late 1940’s, coincides with the rise of “Innovation” as a proper noun.
  • “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” is an often quoted piece of Steve Jobs wisdom I’ve hated for a long time. It has given license to so much misguided energy, and I’ve seen too many companies use it’s premise to avoid talking to customers many times in my career. I want to dispel the implication of this statement once and for all.
  • The actual quote is:
    “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

    The line “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups.” realigns this quote in a significant way. There are plenty of articles and on the effectiveness, or lack thereof, in using focus groups in product development.
  • Clearly focusing on the customer and using customer research was integral to Apple’s success regardless if Jobs mitigate the impact. I think this is partly do to the context of what user research meant at the time. This was to stuff of marketing research and focus groups. Listening to what people say and trying to execute or derive insight by taking their words at face value was, and in many cases still is, what companies see as good customer research. However the practice of this research through the maturing of the practice of user experience design has changed this considerably. I believe that understanding this discussion it is important to understand the contmeporary context and the evolution of the practice since that period.
  • So the customer is the source of innovation insight comes from the customer and not a lone visionary. It’s built on a team of people working in concert. As one of my teammates, Owen Mullings always reminds me “You also have to keep an eye on the state of the art in order to deliver a great user experience. The bar is always moving”. All these forces play out in the tragic story of Steve Ballmer and Microsoft’s attempt to get into the mobile phone business.

    Innovation can, and should occur across, the entire customer experience...
  • Ballmer is focused on price and not value. He also completely misses Apple’s innovation on the distribution model through the subsidization negotiations made with telecom carriers.
  • The innovator’s Dilemma: Our name was Microsoft...we build software Apple’s focus on the Integration of hardware and software, customer feedback and an agile ability to respond to this feedback proved key.
  • Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business
  • Apple innovated on the business model of subsidizing phones. Another friction point in the adoption of powerful high-end smartphones.
  • Innovation can, and should occur across, the entire customer experience.
  • This is where the spark of true innovation lives.
  • I notice when people talk about a user journey it's often through the lens of a "digital product" but this is really dangerous because you jump to the solution space really quickly but you _feel_ like you're being user centered. The issue with not understand the actual intent is you can easily start optimizing a system that never addressed the need properly in the first place. What I mean is you have a journey map that say "...and then the customer logins in blah blah" No customer wants to log in ever. They log in because they have to. If you go down this route you quickly start thinking about screens and jump too quickly into the problem space. So then you quickly get into a feature mindset. And this leads to a focus on output over outcomes.

    In an economy based on services and software the barrier to entry for competition is lower than ever and often the business model is easily copied. Uber, for example, faces pressure on all fronts, even from the traditional taxi industry as well as being landlocked still by the desire and financial incentive to copy it outside of the North American market. Rocket Mobile has made a unique and multi-billion dollar career out of implementing this very thing. The resource and infrastructure intensity in the pre-software world made this type of co-oping much more difficult both financially and practically.

    The piece in your control and the thing that is hard to copy is the customer experience and your ability to let insight from your customers drive innovative outcomes vs. the traditional desire to measure success by outputs.
  • ...you should just get the book.

    It’s a great read, and includes funny pictures of cakes…
  • In my experience, the first two sections (focusing on outcomes and key end-users) can be particularly powerful for stakeholders -- particularly the experience of realizing that what they’d envisioned, or what they saw as the main drivers for the project, didn’t align with what the rest of the group envisioned.

    This image from Jeff Patton’s User Story Mapping book sums it up perfectly...

    This kind of activity is not only powerful, but ultimately more effective for project success than just putting it all in a requirements doc.

    In case you’re wondering, we run these activities here at Rangle on our own internal projects. One internal stakeholder said that what he found most valuable about the process, was "visualizing his thinking", and and seeing where what he envisioned was different from the other stakeholders. He said that “the outcome of Clarity Canvas was incredibly valuable for [him]. Most projects have multiple stakeholders, and what Clarity Canvas does really well is align all those stakeholders right at the beginning of the project. The goals are clear, the outcomes are clear, there is far less risk and ambiguity.”

    ---

    (If needed… Here’s a quote from the book:

    “It’s not that one person is right or wrong, but that we all see different and important aspects.

    Through combining and refining our different ideas, we end up with a common understanding that includes all our best ideas.

    That’s why externalizing our ideas is so important. We can … move sticky notes around, and the cool thing is that we’re really moving ideas around. What we’re really doing is evolving our shared understanding. That’s super-hard with just words alone.”)
  • I notice when people talk about a user journey map it's often through the lens of a "digital product" but this is really dangerous because you jump to the solution space really quickly but you _feel_ like you're being user centered. The issue with not understand the actual intent is you can easily start optimizing a system that never addressed the need properly in the first place. What I mean is you have a journey map that say "...and then the customer logins in blah blah" No customer wants to log in in ever They log in because they have to. If you go down this route you quickly start thinking about screens and jump too quickly into the problem space. So then you quickly get into a feature mindset.
  • I notice when people talk about a user journey map it's often through the lens of a "digital product" but this is really dangerous because you jump to the solution space really quickly but you _feel_ like you're being user centered. The issue with not understand the actual intent is you can easily start optimizing a system that never addressed the need properly in the first place. What I mean is you have a journey map that say "...and then the customer logins in blah blah" No customer wants to log in in ever They log in because they have to. If you go down this route you quickly start thinking about screens and jump too quickly into the problem space. So then you quickly get into a feature mindset.
  • Complexity requires collaboration and collaboration hinges on shared context and clear communication.
  • “Keurig for juice.”?
    Please don’t even get me started on the Keurig...
  • “Keurig for juice.”?
    Please don’t even get me started on the Keurig...

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