designing for disruptive innovation

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  • Robert Barlow-Busch VP User Experience, Boltmade


    Designing for Disruptive Innovation

    Photo by

  • Photo by


  • What would it mean to ship a document


  • Photo by Michael Verhoef on FlickrPhoto by Michael Verhoef

    Security really mattersThe big assumption

  • Photo by Michael Verhoef on Flickr

    Document exchange websiteThe preconceived solution


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  • Meet Joanne

    The hero of our story

    Product Manager

    Photo by Ricky Tang

    Were going to build the best damn document exchange website we can.

  • How did Joanne know customers wanted

    this product?

  • Photo by Michael Verhoef on FlickrPhotos by Chris Smith, David Yu, and Thomas Hawk

    Focus groups!

  • What we heard

    Security is a huge concern.

    We never send documents by email. Are you crazy?

    Its the biggest problem we face today.

  • Hell, yeah! Give me a secure document

    exchange website

  • Meet Steve

    The villain of our story

    Consulting technologist

    Photo by Esther Mari

    We know what to do. My guys are already building it.

  • Hold on, buddy.

    Were going to do this right.

    Okay, fine.

    Grumble, grumble.

  • Field studies20 users in US and Canada

  • Goals Tasks

    Inputs/Outputs Tools

    Environment Relationships

    Burning needs

  • 1. Compiled key observations

  • 2. Arranged them into categories

  • 3. Identified patterns within categories

  • 4. Assembled patterns into groups

  • Wants to get things done. Is highly motivated by finishing the days work. Wants to be in control and confident of whats happening at all times. Would be happy with more security, but values convenience more. Uses email as a detailed archive of project activity. Uses FTP to exchange files too big for email.

    Strives to be seen as indispensible to customers. Is more concerned about quality than deadlines. Sends documents by courier when theyre too big for email. Really doesnt care about security. Has limited computer skills outside AutoCAD.

    Strives to save money for the organization. Held accountable for downtime due to technical issues. Cannot plan ahead. Fights fires all day. Loves the challenge of juggling priorities. Has a dedicated email account for IT emergencies.

    This produced distinctive skeletons

  • That we fleshed out into personas

  • Convenience trumps security

    Photo by Nick Carter

  • Email as filing system

    Photo by Theen Moy

  • Large files suck

    Photo by slimmer_jimmer

  • Opportunity!

  • The design concept

  • Reaction to prototypes


    Photo by Keith Ellwood

  • Wait for it


  • So Joanne took the project for executive approval

    Solid customer insight

    Differentiated product

    Evidence of market demand

  • How will this increase shipments in our trucks

    and airplanes?

  • Um, it wont. Thats kind of the point.

  • Wont this encourage people to ship online

    instead of in airplanes?

  • Um, maybe. Thats kind of the point, too.

  • No! Project cancelled.


  • We got blindsided by

  • Disruptive innovation

    New-market disruptionLow-end disruption

  • The very processes that create a market leader can cause it to fail in the face

    of disruption

  • Photo by Michael Verhoef on Flickr

    What business are we in?

  • Photo by Michael Verhoef on Flickr

    Whats the job to be done?

  • Lessons learned

    Have a champion in a position of influence

    Include the skeptics in your process

    Dont trust self-reported behaviors

    Define the business and the job to be done

  • Robert Barlow-Busch @becubed