Design Strategy Innovation

Perhaps it’s the start of a new year (which makes everyone more optimistic), but innovation has surfaced in many articles I’ve researched and read over the past week. I thought I might share a few that highlight variations of that theme. Let the reading, bookmarking, sharing and following begin.

Will 2012 be an innovative year for web design?

Web design is and always will be a passion for me, and while some trends this year seem very 2012, others feel more like an evolution of previous web design trends. (yes, we were talking about this in 2010!) The mobile and tablet proliferation is really exciting, and also challenging since it changes the dynamics of web design and the web design process more so than other trends. Expect to hear more about responsive design, as well as new terms such as device or browser neutrality.

 

Innovation vs. Invention

I’ve almost finished with the Steve Jobs biography, and (among many other topics) it has made me ponder the difference between innovation and invention. Innovation can be an overused word, so I’ve decided that we should think about defining innovation as an actionable invention.

In the biography, this point is most famously illustrated by the Xerox PARC story. For a quick take on this scenario, read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Creation Myth” New Yorker essay. And then read this perspective on the PARC blog “From creation myth to the reality of innovation today“. In that article, PARC encapsulates this idea of actionable inventions best with this statement:

Simply put: “invention” is the manifestation of an idea or creation of something new. It doesn’t become an “innovation” until it’s applied successfully in practice – i.e., it reaches the market and impacts people’s lives. 

 

What is the innovation landscape for business?

McKinsey posted this recent article about the role of geography, regulations and culture in a company’s ability to innovate. Read “A CEO’s guide to innovation in China” and see what you think. I don’t know if I quite like the idea of participating in a large, real-time market-sized focus group, especially if my purchase is being used to fund feedback. On the other hand, I don’t see how some companies might be able to survive in the highly competitive automotive, technology and pharma industries without considering this approach.

The Chinese have traditionally had a bias toward innovation through commercialization—they are more comfortable than many Western companies are with putting a new product or service into the market quickly and improving its performance through subsequent generations.

 

What’s on the horizon?

Here in Houston, we’re lucky enough that this AMA Houston marketing conference next week is focused on what’s next (and new and innovative) instead of rehashing the tried and true. I personally don’t have anything against best practices, but since I’m feeling the need to innovate this is a good chance to focus some on what’s ahead. 2012 would be a good year to help some companies leave their competitors in the dust (and that, I am very much looking forward to).

If you haven’t already, you should follow these future-forward speakers that will be at the conference and participate in the conversations: