Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

When rules and experience prevent us from thinking creatively

Posted on: June 2nd, 2013 by Fransgaard 2 Comments

At the recent Digital Shoreditch,  Laurie Santos, Professor at Yale University, showed an experiement between chimpanzees and children. The experiment shows how much sharing knowledge, and receiving shared knowledge, means to out behaviour and our (in)ability to see clearly and innovate.

But there’s hope for children and creativity. As stated in an article about creativity shared by a friend of mine, iNyk, on Twitter:

“When children draw, they don’t worry about making mistakes; they take risks, do their own thing and have fun.”

So while children loses out to chimpanzees, they are still better than us in being free to innovate… does that mean it is an age thing?

Maybe it is an age thing, or maybe not. Maybe it is an experience thing. The more we become comfortable and experienced with a tool, the less we use it in new ways.

When you open a software you are familiar with you use it as you did yesterday and the day before. Like you were taught either by others or by trial and error by yourself.

But what if you opened it without any preconceptions of what the software is meant to do for you?

You might suddenly find yourself creating amazing artwork using Microsoft Excel as 73-year-old Tatsuo Horiuchi did.

Excel Art

How to stop ideas – and why.

Posted on: November 7th, 2011 by Fransgaard No Comments

The original version of this article can be seen at the Capgemini – Capping IT Off blog.

The wheel was invented mid 4th millennium BCE. The first car appeared in 1335… historically innovation came at a slow pace because of the time it took to turn ideas into reality.

This meant the new products had time to be tested, gain acceptance and be put into service for many years to come before evolving to the next big thing.

But the speed of innovation went into light speed with The Dawn of The Internet. Suddenly finding the right people with the right knowledge as well as buying the right tools can be done at the speed of a mouse button click… and that is for traditional ideas.

The problem escalates with digital ideas as they not only thrive on the speed of the Internet they also lack of physical restrictions imposed on ‘real-life’ ideas. Digital ideas can be started at the blink of an eye with the only real restriction being budget and this can be fatal to a project.

Example: An idea currently in development is stopped and replaced by an even better idea which then gets developed. Some time is lost, but since the product is digital no physical stock is lost nor has any purchased component/ingredient been made redundant…

…but time is lost.

And with multiple ideas evolving in this manner the project starts rolling on and on and actual completion seems to be further and further away. And time triggers new ideas that may make the second generation of ideas redundant as well.

Other completed functions are left waiting for the new innovations to be developed into complete functions as well. This can be fatal for these functions as innovations outside the project may deliver something similar or better and suddenly the advantage of being first to market is lost… Not to mention these external (and live) innovations may trigger new ideas that could replace these now redundant digital functions.

The product may be getting better but it is never delivered; it never goes live and it never becomes real.

So how to stop the innovation ravine? The answer is quite simply; define purpose with measurable goals up front and stick to it. As soon as an idea fits the purpose and meets the goals, stop the ideas and proceed into development and deployment.

Get it done. Get it live.

Any good ideas that appear after the “idea stop” should be captured but not actioned until the purpose box has been ticked as fully functional and the product is made live.

There is something for the users to use now. They are no longer held in suspense waiting for the project to deliver what they need. And now it’s time to look at the stored box of ideas and use them to add new functionality and new upgrades to the system.

But the best part is that real users are using the product for real and can provide real feedback to help trigger even better ideas than the box of ideas that appeared in isolation during the project.

Where did the “GO” button go? Five sources of user experience design inspiration.

Posted on: August 23rd, 2011 by Fransgaard No Comments

The original version of this article can be seen at the Capgemini – Capping IT Off blog.

This article is for veteran client-side procurers as much as the experienced professionals of digital design. You know who you are. Your baptism of fire was the dot-com crash. you won and went from success to success. Today you are on top of things and know what best practice looks like and how to make a great digital experience… right?

Wrong!

The Internet is moving fasted than ever. What worked yesterday may not work today and will definitely not work tomorrow. And it shows. Just go to any website without a Facebook “like” button or lacking a “Tweet now” link. They feel old-fashioned eventhough social media only really took off a couple of years ago.

So how do you stay on top? Here are 5 tips of keeping up-to-date in an eco-system where learnings are redundant as soon as you gain them:

1: Test with users, not just innovations but old classic functions as well.

The average users behaviour evolves as fast as the net is changing. And their behaviour has always been miles apart from digital professionals simply because their motives are so different and more often than not driven by emotions and urges. User testing is the sounding board that connects the professionals to the actual consumers of the end product.

Remember to test the obvious things as well; Should the search box really stay top right? Are dropdown menus still a nuisance for users? You might be surprised at how sophisticated your customers’ Internet skills have become.

2: Keep an eye on start-ups, they cannot afford not to cater for the users.

Often new companies starts off on limited budgets hence their websites tend to be much simpler and leaner to the benefit of their users. These budget limitations can result in great new user experience features in the same way restrictions on smoking and alcohol commercials triggered some of the best ads in the world.

3: Follow social media for trends in user experience.

Social media is a new field and each new social network tries to differentiate themselves from the previous ones so they all have unique requirements to the user experience design, some of which can be translated to more traditional websites.

For example a person’s calendar may show they are scheduled to be in a meeting but how do you know they are actually there. Maybe we can learn from FourSuare and allow people to “check-in” if they actually do attend the meeting so everybody knows where they actually are rather where they are expected to be.

4: Keep an eye on adjacent technologies.

I think we can all now agree that iPad and other tablets are here to stay but interestingly enough due to their limit in screen size they force UX designers to make the best use of the space, something many traditional websites can learn from. And while touch screen specific design aren’t immediately transferable they may still give some new ideas.

Computer games and interactive TVs are other environments with specific limitations and possibilities all providing inspiration for the savvy digital professional.

5: Listen to kids and read science fiction.

Look and learn from how kids interact with the Internet. Yes, we find it funny when a child tries to smell the flowers on the screen, but it may hint to what tomorrow’s screens can do and what websites should aspire towards.

Similarly science fiction may point us to the future of browsing and we are catching up with future fast. Somebody told me that William Gibson originally started writing “Pattern Recognition” as a science fiction novel, but reality caught up and it ended up being a story that could take place in our time.

At the end of the day…

Inspiration is great but at the end of the day we all need to deliver in the present so always remember to consider whether this or that new great feature actually suits your business needs. For example it may work for Facebook to remove the “GO” button and use the “Return” key as submit button for forms, but if you know your users need to be able to add line breaks then they will need the traditional function of the “Return” key reinstated.

So here and now let’s put the “GO” button back but next time you see a submit button ask yourself:

Should it stay or should it GO?