On Innovation, Appropriateness,
Shortly after attending the ICSID-IDSA CONNECTING ’07
World Design Congress in San Francisco, EICs Jon and Richard
sat down to discuss the conference and its relationship to this
issue of interactions.
Jon: I’m concerned with the overabundance of the
word “innovation” in our professional discipline. At
CONNECTING ‘07, the theme was neither subtle nor
convincing: Nearly every speaker talked about innovation (some better than others), yet no one over
the course of four days managed to define the term.
Apparently, if a business isn’t focused entirely on innovation right now, their business is completely ruined
and they won’t be around in a hundred years.
I’ve recently done a mental inventory of the products,
software, and services that I use and that I cherish. The
items I hold dear to my heart are either one-offs (craft
oriented and thus not in the realm of the innovation discussion) or refined and subtle (they are appropriate more
than they are innovative). As we see a trend in society
toward “slow” design (clearly juxtaposed with fast-food
culture), the bloat of features and functionality that
seem to go hand in hand with being new and different
are dramatically misplaced.
On top of this, the majority of the companies that
are clamoring for increased innovation haven’t proven
that they can solve the older problem of quality: I
don’t need more “new” and “innovative” features in
Windows; I just need the bloody thing to work without
You do a lot of coaching and teaching companies to
be more innovative. Why don’t you get them to be more
appropriate, or refined, or polished, instead?
Richard: Actually, my coaching and teaching focus
on moving user experience into a position of greater
corporate attention and influence—on helping to
enable companies to do the kinds of things Secil
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