It is important not to get carried away with design. Innovation is more than design. Think of Roberto Verganti spotting that Italian [Milanese] innovation is driven out of conversations between executives who are leading that innovation process. It is the management of design that turns those conversations into winning products and services. So we are looking for better ways of "leading innovation and managing design".
The rather wonderful Cube is a thing of beauty but suffers from lack of expandability. As Steve Jobs put it himself
"[The G4 Cube] was not a failure of design," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "It was a failure of concept. We targeted the Cube at a professional audience. We thought they would rather have something small on the desk than expandability and we were wrong. It was a wrong concept "fabulously implemented."
Of course it doesn't mean we will expand the computer on the desk but professional Apple users like to feel they can if they need to. If it had been a Wintel box the response of the potential users might have been different.
Most products and services that have failed in the marketplace probably failed much earlier in the process and it wasn't until the consumer said "Don't like it" that the organisation could deal with that failure. It is the lack of "up-front homework" that leads to such high failure rates in the marketplace. If the foundations upon which you are building are soft then do not build too high until that foundation has hardened. In other words spend more of the resources at the beginning understanding the people who will ultimately use the product and service and what experience they would like to have. In the case of the G4 Cube it would have been worth spending time observing people working at their desks.. what did they do.. would more space make a difference? would more space make enough of a difference to make a trade-of with expandability; could we have a second cube that went underneath/on top that would allow expandability.. we could offer it so people are reassured that expansion is there. And how would we have these conversations?
Firstly we can sketch some boxes on desks and ask people what they think. With the questions we ask we can remodel and ask more people [not just any people but articulate, creative people who will be able to project themselves into the future and have a point-of-view]. This enables us to create a "valid" design concept, one provides answers to the questions "Is it a valid concept? Does someone like it?"
But before we go charging off to implement it we need to "test" our concept against another set of criteria, namely those that answer the question "Is it a viable concept?", "Do enough people like it to make it worthwhile spending more time and effort on it," Will we make money on it?" In fact it is time to increase the fidelity of our model, in fact, time to create a CADmodel that can be more widely shared with people by presenting it photorealistically rendered catalysing a wider dialogue.
This leads us on to physical prototyping and testing to demonstrate the viability of the team's thinking
Finally we can say we have got the story right, the product or service is both valid and viable, and we can ramp up and launch
Steve Jobs shows it off here.
And finally, but most importantly, what does the buyer think? ...when they unwrap it
... in use (after a couple of months)
and finally, when it is obsolete can we find sustainable tasks for it?
Is our solution valid?
Is our solution viable?