08 February 2008

Everyone wants to find the next iPod…

…but few will do what it takes. Though not simple, the formula is straight forward. Put the user first, implement design as a strategy, and take some risk (say it with me… risk/fail/learn – repeat until you reach success).

Re-reading Roger Martin’s Designing in Hostile Territory, I was struck by the irony of a reliability focused culture seeking leadership. Business schools teach, and most of business operates under the premise that proof or evidence are the only tools by which to make decisions. In practical terms, if you cannot show metrics that assure success, then your idea is likely rejected.

So how do you measure the likely success of innovation or original ideas? Is a leadership role gained without risk? In his book Sketching User Experiences, Bill Buxton has a great quote… well he actually calls it his rule: “In the long term, safe is far more dangerous than risk.” As a long time entrepreneur I am, of course, more comfortable managing risk than most MBA types. I am hardly reckless, but I understand the benefits of pushing the envelope at times in order to gain. I think I have been living by Bill’s rule for quite a while. I think it is time to start quoting him… liberally.