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How to avoid bad innovation

8 July 2022

Bad for business

At our recent Innovation Conference, a guest speaker was telling us about the route of innovation that they had taken with their businesses. They went on to explain the cruciality of understanding a market for a product and ensuring that the end user’s needs are fully comprehended prior to initial designs. You’d think this is common sense, right? But we heard examples of very specific products, designed for very refined user groups, with individually identified needs – and yet none of these had been consulted or included in the design. More worryingly the usage of the product was largely unsuitable, un-ergonomic and because of this unpleasant and difficult to use.

This was an example of bad innovation which is something of a startling concept in an open forum. Innovation is typically discussed in terms of excitement, novelty, revolutionary technology, forward-thinking proactivity and ultimately fiscal stimulus. But in the case our speaker highlighted above, products and services can be innovated badly. It isn’t until someone decides to tackle this that more suitable products can be developed and brought to market, which is very much where the team at ATI2 come in.

How can ATI2 help

The Innovation Conference featured discussions and presentations around design thinking and human centred design. These are very much core themes of working with ATI2 and reinforces dialogue around bad innovation and how the Business Innovation Advisors here encourage and guide businesses to maximise their potential. We look at everything from market share to competitor analysis to the design of the products as well as enabling access to wider expertise and world-class facilities at the University of Plymouth. This fully funded business advice and support is specifically for businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

In holding up a mirror to examples of where the supposed innovative solution to a problem posed was largely inappropriate, we must focus on and further embed the ideals of design thinking and human centred design. These considerations are critical to the conceptualisation at the embryonic stages of the iterative innovation process and are core to achieving market success. If one cannot envisage who is going to use a product, how that product is to be used by the target demographic, and of course what the same is prepared to pay, then bad innovation is going to be inevitable. We’d like to help you avoid that by supporting and challenging the design process.

Examples of bad innovation are encouragingly few and the great news is that there is a wealth of business advice, guidance and support available. Not just from the team of experts at ATI2, but national programmes and web resources to help stimulate innovation the right way. Innovation done well leads to success and we really can help you to achieve it.

A final thought comes from English philosopher Francis Bacon: ‘He [or she] that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.’

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