Friday, July 6, 2007

Innovation and design

"How can I do Apple"? I liked Cordell Ratzlaff's quotes in this Business Week article. "The most successful products I was a part of at Apple started with only a few people with no formal structure or hierarchy and little corporate oversight." Cordell managed Apple's Human Interface group in 1990 and now he is a director of User-Centered design at Cisco. He also says "Democracy works well for running a country and choosing a prom queen. The best product designs, however, come from someone with a singular strong vision and the fortitude to fend off everything and everyone that would compromise it." Yes, we all know and I agree that Steve Jobs is the king. To "do an Apple" you can either hire Steve Jobs or you ask your C-level executives to do what he does. Apple does not sell products, it sells user experience and apparently they are doing a good job marketing and selling this experience. We all can learn from Apple and understand the connection between innovation and design.

Apple has made mistakes in the past that resulted into some failures. Many people have blamed Apple for causing cognitive dissonance that resulted into bad design but Apple at least believes in design and gets it. Design-led innovation is not just about interaction, sensory, or information design but it is about design thinking. Apple does get a lot of credit for providing design a first class seat in their organization and enjoys the halo effect or cognitive bias to certain extent. The Business Week article talks about designers sharing the same philosophy and thinking long after they left Apple and this is a good thing as long as the designers don't introduce self-referential design. You want all the people in your organization to believe and practice design-led innovation but you don't really want to copy Apple when you "do an Apple".

1 comment:

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