Popular Dishes

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Design as a Tool for Innovation Continued

Many innovators overlook the importance of design as a source for innovation. Don’t get me wrong, the development of new technologies is a very important form of innovation. However, many successful new products have been launched that simply deliver existing technologies through new designs. When Apple introduced the iPod, electronic music players had been on the market for several years – Apple made the iPod better by designing an enhanced consumer experience. In the automotive world, the Volkswagen New Beetle and Nissan Xterra were both launched largely based on components of existing vehicles, but these new designs created an entirely new market for the existing technology and tooling.
This type of innovation can be generated by taking a deep look at consumers who are seeking the benefits associated with a category but are not buying for some reason. Often innovators can find groups or segments of consumers who express needs and desires that can be satisfied by existing products on the market, but resist current offerings. Many consumers were seeking entertainment inside the home but stayed out of the video game market until Nintendo reinvented the image and experience of video gaming. To create the first sit down personal watercraft in the 1980’s, Yamaha researched consumers who were seeking the experience offered by the existing stand up watercraft, but did not buy. They found that many believed the existing products were difficult to ride, and did not want to leave their friends and family on the shore. Yamaha researched many configurations for new products to better meet their needs, then launched the first sit down, multi passenger Wave Runner.


Nick said...

Very interesting post! You mention Nintendo and I was wondering, if you would know of course, was the WII a very well conceived product, or just product that happened to have the necessary features to get the job done for many...?

Mark Capper said...

Nick, the Wii story is documented at http://www.nintendo.com/wii/what/iwataasks/volume-1/part-1
According to the recount, they did have a vision. They decided early on not to follow the typical industry “roadmap” of technology development as that would have ended with a very predictable result. Instead, they had the user, not technology, in mind in both the development of the device and controller. I hope they continue to add to this site, it is a very interesting story.

Nick said...

Wow! Thanks for the reference, I am very impressed with their introspective approach!