by: C. Sven Johnson
With all the discussion about “design thinking” and “innovation”, I found some quotes in an article on Appliance Magazine’s website that are probably more mainstream than the “hype” crowd would care to admit.
I think that the biggest challenge is dealing with consumer habits. If a consumer has to learn to use a product differently it is going to be difficult to sell. You really have to find a way to integrate new concepts and designs into products that don’t try to change user habits and still fit what a consumer is used to.
Sorry, but that sounds to me like a recipe for bottom-feeding… which probably includes a healthy dollop of focus group worthless.
When I think of highly-innovative products cited as examples of excellence in design - the Swiffer, the iPod, the Dyson vacuum - they don’t follow his safe recipe for success. They’re often the kinds of products I expect from smart development exercises (e.g. “consumer encounters” - PDF) or passionate individuals. They take smart chances; intelligent risks. Because sometimes what’s needed are products that break from tradition, overcome bad habits and actually provide an innovative solution.
Maybe I just need someone to point me to a Miele offering that can share the stage with those products, because while I don’t doubt Miele makes a fine quality product, I don’t see much in their product line that gets me excited or interested. Anyone?
Equally alarming to me is this subsequent quote:
You can come up with a great concept, but then you have to deal with the reality of bringing the product to market, and that process can alter the design rather dramatically.
Too late for second-place GM, perhaps, so instead someone might want to inform Kueny that “dramatically” changing a concept means that it might no longer be that thing which excited people and which got the project started in the first place. One would think that with 6-7 year development times, the end result would remain true to the original intent. Unfortunate if that’s not the case. And personally, I wonder if a project doesn’t usually lose its way after all that time in development. In my experience, the whole team might have come and gone from a company in that time frame.
So how many Kueny’s are out there? How many managers playing it generally safe, but willing to take a chance on something in which they have a personal investment (e.g. the “Art” product?).
A whole bunch, I’d guess.
So has design won? Once again, I don’t think so. Playing it safe can be good for the career. Development times are probably longer though.
Original Post: http://blog.rebang.com/?p=1260