Experience Inspired Innovation: The Fourth Wave of User Centered Design

Every major producer of products or services fears disruptive forces in the marketplace. No industry is immune from these forces including healthcare, telecommunications, financial services, education and retail. Equally vulnerable are company leaders such as Facebook and EBay -- need I mention Blockbuster or Blackberry? Why is disruption inevitable? Can it be predicted? Can it be avoided?

This presentation examines the predictable path traveled by disruptive products or services. I will examine the characteristics of the disruption (compared to the dominant product or service) and the economic conditions allowing it to gain a foothold in non-mainstream markets. Participants will follow the lifecycle of the disruption as it slowly migrates upstream from the fringe to the primary market where it eventually challenges the dominant technology or service. I will then present a clear case of how a strategy of continuous innovation in the mature organization can actually pre-empt the disruptive event.

What does all of this mean for user experience organizations? Traditionally, we have devoted all of our efforts to optimizing today’s products, with little attention directed to tomorrow’s offerings. We leave this work to others in the organization. Who said that innovation is the exclusive domain of MBAs, engineers, and marketers? I will build a strong case for UX professionals having a seat at the “innovation table.” Quite simply, who is better positioned to deeply understand the unmet needs, values, limitations and abilities of our users? Similarly, who is better positioned to transform those insights into design innovation?

Naturally, innovation requires changes in the way we think and work. This presentation will conclude by outlining necessary accommodations in our research methods and encouraging the use of “design-thinking” practices to creatively explore the innovation landscape.