To innovate, close your ears?
In case you missed the obituary, user centered innovation is dead. FutureLab and Design Sojourn are among those who gleefully echo Roberto Verganti’s pronouncement in HBR: the iPad splash proves that innovation occurs not by connecting to your users, but ignoring them and devising stuff your users could never dream of.
User-centered innovation is perfect to drive incremental innovation, but hardly generates breakthroughs.
Whoa. There’s certainly a distinction between radical innovation – innovation that creates new paradigms – and incremental innovation. But it’s false to say that radical innovation excludes the customer or listening.
Radical innovators listen deeply – they tend to gain a deep understanding of users’ passions and concerns (that goes well beyond how they use the product in question). They also have a broad language of technical possibilities. Achievements like this and this unite user passion with technical possibilities in new ways.
I don’t pretend that customer input can directly create a breakthrough. For one thing, customers lack the knowledge of technical possibilities that innovators need. But if divorcing invention from the user’s needs becomes an overpowering trend, we’re in for lots of hype and little value. I’ll have my eye on the obituary section.