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Innovation vs. Best Practice



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My plenary speech at the inaugural UX Live London conference on October 26, 2017.

Eric Reiss

CEO and Author


Innovation vs. Best Practice – Conflict or Opportunity?

“Best practice” implies doing things in the best possible manner, based on past experience. But we like to think of ourselves as innovators in a dynamic industry – we want to go where no one has gone before. Thus, “best practice” and “innovation” are like oil and water – they don’t easily mix.

How can we, as UX professionals, balance the need for consistency that “best practice” provides, with our on-going mission to improve the quality of our products? How can we create genuine improvements – and when have we been seduced by the evil twins, Fad and Fashion?

“Innovation vs. Best Practice” explores the elements that make up these two ends of the UX spectrum. We’ll take a closer look at the popular definitions of both innovation and best practice – and discover why these are frequently inadequate, misleading, or both. Why is a “standard” not always a “best practice”? And if “invention” can be spontaneous, why is “innovation” always planned?

We’ll also examine some of the worst reasons to innovate, which are also some of the most common, plus the Japanese concept of “chindogu” – “useless innovation.” Perhaps most important of all, we’ll see how User Driven Design helps us avoid harmful innovation in comparison to the more common User Centered Design methodology.

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Innovation vs. Best Practice

  1. 1. Innovation vs. Best Practice Eric Reiss @elreiss UX Live London, UK What is it? Why bother? Who cares?
  2. 2. Source: Financial Times, 6 October 2010
  3. 3. in·no·va·tion noun 1 : The act of innovating; the introduction of novelties 2 : A change made in the nature or fashion of anything
  4. 4. in·no·va·tion noun 1 : the introduction of something new 2 : a new idea, method, or device
  5. 5. best prac·tice noun 1 : best way of doing a thing 2 : a tested idea, method, or device
  6. 6. Best practices represent short-term solutions. Innovation builds long-term success.
  7. 7. a better, actionable definition of innovation a process that leads to business success some practical do’s and don’ts My goal today is to give you:
  8. 8. To differentiate your product/service To be “original” To satisfy designer ego Three bad reasons to innovate
  9. 9. “pushing the envelope” ≠ innovation
  10. 10. following a fad ≠ innovation
  11. 11. Zen litter box
  12. 12. “Chindogu” (Japanese term for useless innovation)
  13. 13. Invention vs. innovation
  14. 14. Experiment
  15. 15. Invention
  16. 16. Invention
  17. 17. Innovation 15 April 1912
  18. 18. to solve a problem! There is only one reason to innovate…
  19. 19. Eric’s Law of Innovation #1 If an innovation does not solve a problem, it will create one.
  20. 20. Let’s look at mouthwash...
  21. 21. She’s a trained professional. Don’t try this at home!
  22. 22. Eric’s Law of Innovation #2 Problems do not exist in isolation. Solutions often have unintended consequences.
  23. 23. Enfield M1853 • Technological • Social • Political
  24. 24. Tech Social Political
  25. 25.
  26. 26. Eric’s Law of Innovation #3 True innovation is impossible if you haven’t done the research or do not understand the research.
  27. 27. Gus the cat
  28. 28. A customer is always a user. But a user is not always a customer UX CX CX UX
  29. 29. User Centered Design Users Innovate >
  30. 30. Users Innovate > User Driven Design
  31. 31. Important note: Unhappy customers are dangerous
  32. 32. Eric’s Law of Innovation #4 Invention may be accidental. Innovation is always planned.
  33. 33. Eric’s Law of Innovation #5 Innovators understand the rules. This is the difference between innovation and idiocy.
  34. 34. Eric’s Law of Innovation #6 Intuitive solutions do not need instructions.
  35. 35. Intuition Instruction Website Driving a car Low High Barrier to entry
  36. 36. Incremental Distruptive Type of innovation
  37. 37. R “My problem is greater than the effort needed to learn the system” OI(Return on Innovation)
  38. 38. Best practice is not the same as fashion or habit.
  39. 39. Invention Innovation Lifecycle Innovation Best practice Habit Innovation Best practice Fashion Old-fashioned Time Progress
  40. 40. What are the warning signs of fad and fashion?
  41. 41. Your solution is only being used in your local market Your solution is only being used by a single branch or industry Your solution looks like something you also did last week Watch out if...
  42. 42. Do we have a digital revolution? Do we have disruptive innovation? Do we need to start from scratch?
  43. 43. No! We apply old skills in new ways
  44. 44. Eric’s Law of Innovation #7 Innovation almost always represents the combination of two well-known technologies to create a new, useful synthesis.
  45. 45. Eric’s Law of Innovation #8 Innovations can take a long time before they are accepted.
  46. 46. < Nils Bohlin
  47. 47. a better, actionable definition of innovation “Innovation is a planned activity that addresses a latent or acknowledged problem, often combining two or more well-established technologies.” a process that leads to business success Do your research Identify real problems Think about how your solution will affect technological, social, and political issues some practical do’s and don’ts Don’t invent problems Don’t succumb to designer ego My goal this afternoon was to give you:
  48. 48. “It’s amazing how much we can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” Harry S. Truman
  49. 49. Thank you!
  50. 50. You can (usually) find Eric at: The FatDUX Group ApS Strandøre 15 DK-2100 Copenhagen Denmark Office: (+45) 39 29 07 07 Mobil: (+45) 20 12 88 44 Twitter: @elreiss