"Shadows: Yes, we all had shadows. They were with us constantly. But when I came to this Town, my shadow was taken away. . . ."
"Trust me. Your shadow is in good hands," said the Gatekeeper. "We give it three meals a day, let it out once a day for exercise. Nothing to worry about."
"Can I see him from time to time?"
"Maybe," said the Gatekeeper. "If I feel like letting you, that is."
"And what would I have to do if I wanted my shadow back?"
"I swear, you are blind. Look around," said the Gatekeeper, his arm plastered to my back. "Nobody has a shadow in this Town, and anybody we let in never leaves. Your question is meaningless."
So it was I lost my shadow." ( Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, pp. 62-4)
We discussed the Design4 here. In order to maximise creativity we need some creative tension to help the conversation to develop in Design Space. Living knowingly in a paradox can be uncomfortable but productive! Consider the two paths we are always taking (unless in total darkness!) ..the path we feel comfortable taking and the one our shadow takes which can be much more variable than the one we choose.
When we have an idea for a product (or service) the temptation is to spring into action and get it produced and out there in the marketplace as soon as possible. The high mortality rate of new product launches owes something to this temptation and our wonderful ideas disappear leaving not a trace, not a shadow behind.
So how do we ensure we take both our and our shadows path?
Think of one path the route we take driven by the question "Is this idea valid? will some one crave to have it?" and the other route as "Is this idea viable? Can we make money from it?.
If you have an idea for a substantial or radical departure from the organisation's norm then asking the viabiliy question too early will kill the idea stone dead! And the trouble with dead ideas is they rarely come back to life again in your organisation.
So if we look at our Design4 we will see that we can plot our journey as:
The bottom right quadrants are the zone of discovery where we scan and discover ("Isn't that interesting?") share in DesignSpace and synthesise some interesting ideas and concepts that we make tangible with increasing fidelity as we move along the paths:
originally uploaded by Will Ellis . Used with thanks under Creative Commons
The journey along two paths is often challenging and teams who are drawn from strong functional silos will find a high tension as they try to explain to their peers and superiors what the team is doing.
The paths do however open up opportunites for exploitation of design visualisation technologies such as pencil sketching (to make ideas tangible), ALIAS Sketchbook (to make sketching interactive in a group situation, e.g. focus group), simulation technologies like ALIAS Studio and similar (malleable digital modelling and visualisation), Moldflow and similar (for manufacturing simulation), Ansys and similar (for structural analysis and visualisation), Fluent and similar (fluid flows ) ... cost comparisons...... the list seems endless. The amount of creativity applied to exploiting the potential of simulation and visualisation will determine the payoff from the effort expended [Then there are all the rapid physical prototyping technologies that can support decision making as well... but that will be another story.]
All these technologies give answers but only if you are the right person and ask the right question of the right prototype at the right time will you get a useful answer. Remember M. Kranzberg's Law: Technology is neither good nor bad. Nor is it neutral. How you deploy it determines how useful it is. The amount of illumination the team gets from using digital and physical simulation depends how often they can use it, and how they use it to illuminate both paths,
and how you balance the journey along each one.
Since writing this RSS has alerted me to a BusinessWeek article "The Innovation Backlash". It starts "A chorus of voices is calling for an end to the hype—and a focus on the fundamentals that drive real bottom-line-boosting innovation."
Which brings me back to what Michael, Kevin and Richard said (see Nowhere to go...)
"'Innovation' isn't what innovators do....it's what customers and clients adopt."
- Michael Schrage, author of Serious Play
"Innovation is something that changes the life of the customer. It changes the life of the customer in some way, or the world in which the customer experiences things. That's innovation."
-Kevin Roberts in Lovemarks
"Design is making things better for people."
-Richard Seymour, designer
The Designer may sit at the hub of the innovation wheel but the designer is not the Centre of the Universe.