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Designing for disruptive innovation


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Designing for disruptive innovation
with Robert Barlow-Busch
Presented on March 07 2015
at FITC's Spotlight UX/UI
More info at

Sometimes we get so focused on winning small victories of the present — like sign-off on UX or design support — that we’re blindsided by larger issues from the overall business context. In this case study, Robert Barlow-Busch describes how he journeyed with a team who experienced this first-hand. Hear the story of a project in which field research and design saved the day by uncovering an incredible business opportunity. And find out what happened when they presented that opportunity to an executive team wrestling with disruptive innovation.

Demonstrate the potential of design to influence product strategy and the importance of understanding business context.

Designers, researchers, and product managers

Why not to trust a focus group, ever again.
The basics of how to conduct in-context user research and analyze findings.
Involving skeptics in your process may be the best way to make them evangelists.
The characteristics of disruptive innovation.
How destroying assumptions may be a design team’s most important contribution.

Published in: Design
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Designing for disruptive innovation

  1. 1. Robert Barlow-Busch VP User Experience, Boltmade @becubed Designing for Disruptive Innovation Photo by
  2. 2. Photo by vs
  3. 3. What would it mean
 to“ship”a document online?
  4. 4. Photo by Michael Verhoef on FlickrPhoto by Michael Verhoef Security really matters The big assumption
  5. 5. Photo by Michael Verhoef on Flickr Document exchange website The preconceived solution Recipient Receive email alert Log in securely Sender Log in securely Upload document Send to recipient Download document
  6. 6. Meet Joanne The hero of our story Product Manager Photo by Ricky Tang We’re going to build the best damn document 
 exchange website we can. —
  7. 7. How did Joanne know customers wanted this product?
  8. 8. Photo by Michael Verhoef on FlickrPhotos by Chris Smith, David Yu, and Thomas Hawk Focus groups!
  9. 9. What we heard “Security is a huge concern.” “We never send documents by email. Are you crazy?” “It’s the biggest problem we face today.”
  10. 10. Hell, yeah! Give me a secure document exchange website
  11. 11. Meet Steve The villain of our story Consulting technologist Photo by Esther Mari We know what to do. My guys are already building it. —
  12. 12. Hold on, buddy. We’re going to do this right. Okay, fine. Grumble, grumble. ——
  13. 13. Field studies 20 users in US and Canada
  14. 14. Goals Tasks Inputs/Outputs Tools Environment Relationships Burning needs
  15. 15. 1. Compiled key observations
  16. 16. 2. Arranged them into categories
  17. 17. 3. Identified patterns within categories
  18. 18. 4. Assembled patterns into groups
  19. 19. Wants to get things done. Is highly motivated by finishing the day’s work. Wants to be in control and confident of what’s happening at all times. Would be happy with more security, but values convenience more. Uses email as a detailed archive of project activity. Uses FTP to exchange files too big for email. Strives to be seen as indispensible to customers. Is more concerned about quality than deadlines. Sends documents by courier when they’re too big for email. Really doesn’t care about security. Has limited computer skills outside AutoCAD. Strives to save money for the organization. Held accountable for downtime due to technical issues. Cannot plan ahead. “Fights fires” all day. Loves the challenge of juggling priorities. Has a dedicated email account for IT emergencies. This produced distinctive skeletons…
  20. 20. That we fleshed out into personas
  21. 21. Convenience trumps security Photo by Nick Carter
  22. 22. Email as filing system Photo by Theen Moy
  23. 23. Large files suck Photo by slimmer_jimmer
  24. 24. Opportunity!
  25. 25. The design concept
  26. 26. Reaction to prototypes Hooray! Photo by Keith Ellwood
  27. 27. Wait for it… Hooray!
  28. 28. So Joanne took the project for executive approval Solid customer insight Differentiated product Evidence of market demand
  29. 29. How will this increase shipments in our trucks and airplanes?
  30. 30. – Um, it won’t. – That’s kind of the point.
  31. 31. Won’t this encourage people to ship online instead of in airplanes?
  32. 32. – Um, maybe. – That’s kind of the point, too.
  33. 33. No! Project cancelled.
  34. 34. WTF?WTFWTW
  35. 35. We got blindsided by…
  36. 36. Disruptive innovation New-market disruptionLow-end disruption
  37. 37. The very processes that create a market leader can cause it to fail in the face of disruption
  38. 38. Photo by Michael Verhoef on Flickr ”What business are we in?”
  39. 39. Photo by Michael Verhoef on Flickr What’s the job to be done?
  40. 40. Lessons learned Have a champion in a position of influence Include the skeptics in your process Don’t trust self-reported behaviors Define the business and the job to be done
  41. 41. Robert Barlow-Busch @becubed