Nov 21, 2019 | by Budi Tanrim
My hope for stubborn 'Innovators'
Can we build this feature?!!
Many people are confused between ideas with innovation. Some believe innovation is the idea that popped in their heads during dinner or showers. Then, they become stubborn with that idea.
Those ideas, though, are not necessarily what others care about.
I’ve witnessed some senior leaderships come to the team and request random features out of the blue throughout my career. When they get asked, “Why should we work on this feature?” They will ignorantly answer, “Just do it my way. I know my shit.”
You know what happens in that story, right? If I can simplify, there are two possible outcomes from that story.
First, the team might do it and get “some” results but struggle to make a significant improvement or growth in the future. For me, if it’s a success, it’s just pure luck and not sustainable. The second possibility is the team ship and launch something no one wants to use. Which often time happens. Oops!
Often people don’t realize they do that. I mean, even me, as Design Practitioners, can jump to conclusions too soon from time to time. It’s our nature, a default way of thinking. Worse, all the innovators’ great success stories always talk about one person behind that invention. This victimizes our way of thinking to believe that our idea could be one of that success stories. Of course, there is that possibility, but in today’s reality, where the competition is up high and new startups around the block ready to disrupt the industry, we have to think and work smarter. We can’t hope we do a random thing and wish the best of luck out of it.
The way I see it, innovation is a process to create, offer, and provide a better way of doing something. A better experience for the user to master their environment. Therefore, it’s important to focus on the user’s problem and context first, which we can often get by observing the users.
It’s okay to have ideas, but don’t be stubborn and fixated on it
I mean, it’s okay to have ideas, though. Without it, we can’t start any thoughts or conversations. But don’t randomly request a feature and then be stubborn with that specific solution. I can talk about few methods, this and that. Instead, here’s a simple suggestion for leaders who often give a random feature request:
Distill it down from feature to problem
Come to your team and say, “Hey, I think this __ feature will be useful because it can solve ____ problem. Can we brainstorm and explore other possibilities to solve this problem?” Talk about that specific solution with an open mindset. Talk about what problem you want to solve. The priority should be solving that problem, not your solution! Give space for your team can uncover that problem and opportunity and then ideate together.
Talk about the expected user outcome of that feature
Come to the team and talk about, “Hey, I have this ____ idea. I believe it can help our users to do _____ (better experience). I wonder if there’s a better idea to help our user achieve experience?” Don’t be stubborn about the solution.
Here, an Experience Designer and Design Researcher will be your best friend to help you observe your users and understand their pain points.
Don’t be stubborn, stupid.
Focus on the problem and be open to other solutions. Because, in the end, if you truly are an innovator, you should be passionate about solving that problem to empower your user to live their life easier and better. Plus, by doing that, your company could gain a better business outcome later on.