Innovation – We need better tools !


We all experienced this frustration, anybody familiar with the field knows it. We live in a hyperconnected world where form and function merges, interaction is key and the action is  in ecosystems and networks.

However, we enter this world equipped with brainstorming techniques popularized by Osborn in the 50s, ethnographic journeys that we borrowed from anthropology, focus groups and user interviews that we stole from ethnography and marketing and yes, lots of post-its and crude prototypes that work well as a starting point for a conversation but probably not much more.

Tools thought for capturing user needs and user feedback on products and services already known by users or that users could easily imagine, and  we try to apply them to develop radically new proposals. How many times in the midst of this process you remembered Henry’s Ford quote: if I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses ?

It just doesn’t work !

Todays’ proposals need to invent new business models, take advantage of network effects in on-line ecosystems, create virtual infrastructures … and the tools that we are using were aimed at developing physical products and services … they help little, face it.

Where is the future? We know is here,, although not evenly distributed. Then where is the future of innovation tools? If we look at the software industry we will see a very different scenario. Lots of experimentation but not with crude prototypes but real products in the real world using statistical tools such as A/B testing. Capturing user feedback with platforms such as Kickstart where people back their opinions with their money. Lot’s of co-creation, in open source, not with ideas, but writing code.Jim Barksdale the former CEO of Netscape summarized it pretty well: If we have data, let’s use data, if all we have are opinions will go with mine !

The software industry shows us the way: data, real data. However, this is only one half of the story. We need more than data certainly, but  we also need frameworks where to fit it. Frameworks that could help us in understanding business models, growth models, networking effects in ecosystems and networks …

We need better tools !