Just Because You Can Innovate Doesn't Mean You Should

12 Aug 2009 - 12:12am
7 years ago
1 reply
965 reads
Eric Reiss

I'm tuning in a bit late here, so forgive me if someone also has made my

A couple of things about innovation. First, unlike invention, innovation
is planned and never happens by accident. This is an absolutely critical
distinction. Second, it always solves a problem; if it doesn't solve a
problem, it will invariably create one.

So, a new idea is not necessarily innovative. But as Jason points out,
it may have the potential for innovation if handled correctly. And
"handling correctly" is often where good intentions go wrong.

Every true innovation will have technological, political, and social
consequences. All three points need to be considered before implementing
something. Bill Buxton tells a great apocryphal story about the
Lee-Enfield company which was asked to produce a breach-loading musket
for the British Army back in the 1850s. I believe you can hear it in one
of his innovation lectures for Microsoft, which are available online.

And again to support Jason's point, just thinking about something
doesn't make it so. Innovation is directly related to action. Always.

Eric Reiss
The FatDUX Group
Copenhagen, Denmark
office: (+45) 39 29 67 77
mobile: (+45) 20 12 88 44
skype: ericreiss
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12 Aug 2009 - 11:02am

Daniel, I'm glad you brought up the micro-interaction of
"auto-save" in Gmail.

Consider the following:

In Gmail for instance, there are some features that are obvious. The
undo button is an obvious innovation, whereas the auto-save feature
is more of a passive innovation since you probably wouldn't notice
it's there. It's almost a commodity now.

Dave, the light bulb that Edison invented was an innovation on the
light bulb that Joseph Swan started working on some 30 years earlier.
(And 20 people had tried to invent the light bulb before those two.)
But Edison made it economically viable.

Jason R.


Jason Robb
Experience Design & Implementation


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