Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Creativity and UX and Design and Life

This short, 3-minute video hints at the importance of paying attention. The importance of observation is not only for good UX. It's not only for good design. It's not only for creativity. It's for all aspects of life! Observation is not only paying attention, but also being open and receptive to what the environment presents. Park your bias and preconceptions at the door; soak the world in. 

In other words: be like Dr. Gregory House! ;)

Excerpt from inGenius
Are You Paying Attention?
Acute observation is a key skill for gaining valuable knowledge about the world around you. This knowledge is the fuel for your imagination. Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur, provides a great example. He has been on the founding team of eight companies, and many people have praised Steve for his creativity and fearlessness. He chuckles and says, “I’m not brave. I’m just incredibly observant.” Steve has discovered that the more you observe, the more data you collect, the more patterns you see, and the more boldly you can act. As Steve would say, “This is a big idea!”
In 1988, for example, Steve was brought in to run marketing at a company called SuperMac, which made graphics boards for computers. At the time the business had just emerged from bankruptcy. The company had only a 10 percent market share, which was way below the other two leading players in the field. As Steve put it, “They were twentieth in a field of three.” Soon after he arrived, Steve noticed an enormous pile of fifteen thousand product registration cards that had been sent in by customers. They were stacked up recklessly in the corner of the break room. He asked his colleagues about this massive stack of cards and learned that they were just piling up, year after year. Everyone was much too busy executing their plans to take a look at these seemingly meaningless pieces of paper. Steve started digging through the pile himself and quickly realized that they contained a gold mine of information.
Steve pulled out three hundred of the most recently received cards and started calling these customers himself. He asked them what business they were in, how they used the graphics board, what its most important attributes were, how it could be improved, and how much they would be willing to pay for it. He learned a tremendous amount from each call, and the collective information allowed Steve to make choices about product positioning and pricing, with great confidence that they would work. Within a short time, Steve overhauled the promotion of the product line and increased the prices. As a result, the company’s market share increased from 10 to 70 percent. This would never have happened if Steve had not paid attention to the little pieces of paper that others ignored.
Another example comes from David Friedberg, the founder of the Climate Corporation. While working at Google, David passed a small bike-rental shack each day as he drove to work. Over time he noticed a pattern: whenever it rained, the shack was closed for business. This observation led to the insight that millions of businesses are influenced by the weather, including farms, movie theaters, and ski resorts. He decided to leave Google to start a company that sells insurance to protect businesses from weather-related losses. David would never have come up with this idea, and launched this successful venture, had he not paid careful attention to the world outside his car while driving to work. This story illustrates how paying attention can reveal valuable opportunities and the prior story shows how observation uncovers solutions that are hidden in plain sight.

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