The first is that radical innovation, albeit risky, is one of the major sources of long-term competitive advantage. For many authors, however, the phrase radical innovation is an ellipsis for a longer construction that spells radical technological innovation. Indeed, investigators of innovation have focused mainly on the disruptive effect of novel technologies on industries. The second finding is that people do not buy products but meanings. People use things for profound emotional, psychological, and sociocultural reasons as well as utilitarian ones.

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The more you believe that human-centered design is important, the more you need to read this book. Forget user-centered innovation. The traditional view is technology driven, with most innovation being small, incremental changes and occasional large, dramatic jumps.

I have argued that human-centered design is useful for incremental changes, but not for the large, radical transformations Norman, Verganti agrees, but adds a critically important new dimension to the argument: meaning. Products within existing categories and constructed from existing technologies can undergo incremental changes, again driven by human-centered design, but they can also undergo radical transformation in meaning: these are design-driven. Thus, Apple's iPod was a revolution in meaning, not technology.

Similarly, Alessi's development of cute, fun corkscrews and other kitchen items caused a radical transformation of that field, but did not require technological changes.

Swatch redefined the meaning of watches, creating a radical revolution. The big wins, of course, are where we combine radical technological innovation with radical meaning innovation. These have to be driven both by technological innovations, so they are technology driven, as well as by meaning revolutions, in which case they are also design driven.

Wii harnessed the radical technological revolution in sensors with a radical change in the meaning of a video game, to great success. So what is the role of human-centered design also known as user-centered?

Once the radical change has taken place, then HCD is essential for the continual refinement and improvement that marks incremental enhancement of product and meaning. But for radical change? Forget it. Link to book at Amazon. Verganti, R. Design-driven innovation: changing the rules of competition by radically innovating what things mean. Technology first, needs last: the research-product gulf.

See my joint paper with Verganti:Norman, D. Incremental and radical innovation: Design research versus technology and meaning change. Design Issues, 30 1 , Link to entire paper as a PDF file. Essay types.


Design-Driven Innovation by Roberto Verganti

Design is meaning. At the Stockholm School of Economics, together with Mattia Bianchi, we are bringing design into a new frontier: the space of leadership, organisational transformation, and the purpose of the firm. We believe that traditional leadership models are unsuitable to address the pressing challenges of our new world. And that design can provide a path towards the new art of leadership. The Garden is a space where leaders, students, scholars of different disciplines join forces to reinvent leadership at its roots, inspired by Design. It provides practitioners and scholars a yearly map of where Design Thinking is going, its diffusion in businesses, its emerging practices, who is doing what, and why.


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