Sunday, October 05, 2008

Design Failures

This has been a pretty interesting read. I love books like this. Open it up to any page and it provides intutive implementable ideas, many applicable to the ID process. One of the interesting items in here was that firefighters had better reactions in the field when they were trained with negative case studies- what happened when things go horribly wrong. This was something that really resonated with me. We drink our own Kool-Aid if we think that all applications of ID are bound to succeed. We can learn far more from our failures than from our sucesses. Admittedly it is very difficult to talk about failure. Most people close to me are pretty aware of my personal failings as I am pretty candid about them (that and my shortcomings are readily apparent :)), but talking about design failure brings up the reputation of your entire team and that gets tricky.

Peter Day did a very interesting interview of the Arbor Strategy Group who has a library of "zombie brands" -innovative brands that failed and are ripe for resurrection. This was an interesting analysis as the market had already defined whether the product had succeeded or not....well not. Anti-viral tissue was an example.

Kleenex antiviral tissue that was the right product at the right time. Apparently there was a precursor in the 80s that was a failure because it was viewed as unnecessary and dystopic. Afters SARs and the bird-flu the market was ready for antiviral tissue.

Failures are really interesting because they start to teach us the subtleties of product development. We need to have more analysis of failures in our design education. You get the wrong idea looking at case study after case study of design success after design success. You get the impression that the design process is bullet-proof. Simply plug the user analysis tab into the fast prototype slot, screw in some innovative materials and manufacturing methods- and out comes pre-ordained market success...yawn

A deeper understanding of design failures, beyond the Edsel and the Aztec will help us. Then our award shows might not be littered with as many market failures.

Posted by Picasa

No comments: