JWD is a Virtual Industrial Design Consultancy with over 30 years of experience in a wide variety of
industries with long-term ties to other professionals. I can offer consulting as an undividual hands-on
contributor or assemble a hand-picked multidisciplinary team for a specific project, similar to the way a
film director assembles a crew to create a movie.
It has been my experience that the best results come from small multidisciplinary teams united by a
common vision. I have an innate ability to quickly synthesize disparate needs that provide insights that
solve real problems, build brand equity and customer loyalty.
In a world where there is an incredible proliferation of product offerings, it is incumbent on Design to
provide solutions that are differentiated and sustainable. The planet does not need more stuff destined for
The two most important criteria for success are to accurately define the problem statement and the
customer use case. The best solutions are rarely the most obvious. We begin with an iterative process
based on an agreed set of criteria based on solid research, brainstorm lots of ideas, prototype the most
promising and learn from those that don't work. It's this learn-as-you-go, informed-intuition process that
gets the best solutions the quickest. Qualified user evaluations can be fed into the process to begin a
"looping" of design and evaluation to refine the ideas.
I consider my clients to be equal partners in the process with all attendant rights for questioning,
feedback, and creative contributions. At the end of the day it is the marketplace that will reward those
who took the time to do it right.
Top Five Innovation Killers...
Innovation has never been more important to companies as it is now. The economy is creating new
needs and new forms of value are needed to fulfill them. Yet there remains a yawning gulf between
business leaders' rhetoric on innovation and the reality on the ground. So what holds our companies back
and why is innovation so rare?
Here are five factors that prevent successful innovation:
01_An intolerance of failure
The number one top tactic for innovation, according to expert innovators, is to experiment fearlessly.
Nothing works the first time so you might as well fail as quickly as possible. If you cannot accept failure
you are unlikely to see too much innovation, no matter how much money you throw at it.
02_An excessive customer focus
Professional managers are great at using customer research to make incremental improvements to
existing products and services. But, faced with a radical new proposition, people are poor predictors of
their own future behavior. The famous Italian designer Alberto Alessi avoids traditional focus groups but
conducts pre-design market research to inform the process. If that upfront work is properly done, any
customer inputs along the way are just check points.
Additionally, the resources and time that would have gone into traditional focus groups would be better
spent on creating a limited production run of functional prototypes for testing in the real market, and then
rolling those learnings into the full production version. That approach generally gets relt data and a more
refined product out quicker, better suited to the real needs of the user, saving time and capturing market
opportunity earlier, providing sales revenue and brand building.
Innovation is a way of life, not an isolated program change. 3M is famous for this approach, allowing its
developers to spend a certain percentage of their time perusing their own projects as a way of
encouraging bottom-up ideas.
04_An unwillingness to cannibalize sales
The only way to prolong success is, paradoxically, to destroy it and create something even more
valuable. Technology companies know that they must consistently add new features at lower prices if
they want to stay ahead in the market. Involve your whole organization and beyond, cannibalize your
existing business, and see
05_A reliance on a small cadre of innovators
Relying on a small development to identify, create and deliver game-changing innovations is unrealistic.
You have to cast a much wider net. In the past five years Proctor and Gamble has dramatically increased
its willingness to work with external organizations and now aims to develop at least half of its new growth
through these external networks.
Once you are willing to accept some failure as part of the innovation process, innovation as a way of life,
you're on the way to make real progress. Lead rather than follow
Santa Cruz, California
b 2011 article in FastCompany "Why User-Led Design is a Failure"