UIEtips Article: Debunking the Myths of Innovation: An Interview with Scott Berkun

Jared Spool

July 26th, 2007

UIEtips 7/26/07: Debunking the Myths of Innovation: An Interview with Scott Berkun

Flickr, the online photosharing web site, changed everything for web applications. For one of the first times, the developers of Flickr combined elements of Flash and AJAX in a seamless form, along with the HTML page.

What many people don’t know is that Flickr wasn’t originally a site for sharing photos. It was originally conceived as an online game, “The Game Neverending.” But when the design team started facing business obstacles with the game, they quickly shifted their priorities and recognized the value of the photosharing application. As a result, Flickr fundamentally changed the way we look at web applications.

At UIE, we hear all the time from clients working to build products and sites that capture the market, hoping to duplicate the success of sites such as Flickr. If you’re challenged with creating innovative designs, I think you’ll really want to read Scott Berkun’s writings on the subject. Scott is the author of the new book, “The Myths of Innovation,” and an expert when it comes to the history of innovation.

In this week’s article, UIE’s Christine Perfetti sat down with Scott to talk about his new book and his research in the area of innovation. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Read today’s UIEtips article.

How does your design team go about developing innovative designs? Join the discussion below about this week’s topic below.

[If you find this article interesting, you'll definitely want to attend this year's UI12 Conference, where Scott Berkun present his full-day seminar: The Myths of Innovation -- How to Lead Breakthrough Projects. In this seminar, you'll gain the essential skills and core concepts needed to lead innovative projects within your organization.]

4 Responses to “UIEtips Article: Debunking the Myths of Innovation: An Interview with Scott Berkun”

  1. Dave Kresta Says:

    I had the pleasure of hearing Scott speak last night at the Open Source conference here in Portland, Oregon. What resonated with me was that innovation/exploration is not a linear thing. There are lots of ends, wasted time, etc. It is only with hindsight that we look at an innovation and pick out the magic “path” that was followed, ignoring all the noise that actually contributed to the innovation. This is particularly apparent when you look at a timeline of milestones, such as the “history of communications”, or the “history of navigation” — only the successes are highlighted!

    The take-away? Innovation requires emergence, randomness, experimentation, failure, and yes, inspiration. This is a topic I explore in more detail at the Business Collaboration Journal at http://www.collaborativeye.com.

  2. Juan Lanus Says:

    I can’t go to listen to Scott except, for example, in this video:
    http://www.oreillygmt.eu/2007/04/video_of_scott_.html
    Video of Scott Berkun presenting The Myths of Innovation

    In his speech he says a phrase that, to me, is the answer to the question on how innovation happens.
    Somewhere in the video Scott mentions something about looking at the problem from a different point of view.

    IMO this is what makes the difference. Like Henry Ford doing it twice, once about who are cars for, and the other about taking the pieces and the tools to the being-built car or taking the car where the pieces and the tools are waiting it.

    Some freedom of mind is needed for doing such things.

    Many a web designer tries to achieve this by breaking the established design rules. They mostly fail, because it’s not about going against the rules nor setting new rules but simply do it better within the rules using a novel approach.

    The example that comes to mind is Gmail.
    Before Gmail the rules were that you could have an email account stored in your PC and access it only from your PC, or having a webmail account accessible from anywhere but slow, clumsy, with limited storage.
    One Gmail freeminded guy broke these rules. In fact, he crushed them, all of them at once. He also changed the way messages are to be organized …
    Now, take a look at a Gmail screenshot you have in mind: is there something revolutionary there, in the way it looks, or in the way it reacts to user input, or in the UI?
    Not at all, isn’t it? And anyway it’s one of the most revolutionary solutions ever. One that changed the Internet forever, adding 1 to the version in the move to web 2.0.

    So, to innovate has to change the point of view. The image that comes to mind is someone looking at “it” from a certain distance. Not from the inside of “it” but at a distance.
    A corollary is that one must have a sound knowledge, or comprehension, of “it” to be in the position of looking from the distance.
    -

  3. blog.dsetia.com» Blog Archive » UIEtips Article: Debunking the Myths of Innovation: An Interview with Scott Berkun Says:

    [...] In this week’s article, UIE’s Christine Perfetti sat down with Scott to talk about his new book and his research in the area of innovation. Source: [Link] [...]

  4. Jay Hamilton-Roth Says:

    Another fallacy: we often think of innovation as a totally new solution to a problem. Don’t forget that most innovation is actually creative evolution of a problem, incremental improvement to something that works.

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