12 – limitations: user driven innovation
This section will enable you to critically reflect on user-driven innovation and to understand its limitations.
In current innovation practice, there has been a shift from technology-driven innovation to user-driven innovation.
This is a very good thing. It’s much smarter to look carefully at what users need and to adapt your technology to that than to force your technology into the market.
Still, there is a catch to user-driven innovation: just as with the other drivers for innovation that were discussed previously in the book, the user doesn’t tell you what to do. Users can be great sources of inspiration for innovation, but how you react to these sources of inspiration is up to you. Again, this reaction is framed by your organisation’s culture, values, beliefs and norms. Even user-driven innovation needs the brand to interpret.
Thus, the catch with user-driven innovation is that doing user research in itself doesn’t drive innovation. The research results will not be unique to your organisation. Another organisation, doing the same kind of research with the same users, may arrive at the same data. It’s what you do with the data, how you internalise it and interpret it based on your own values and norms, that turns ‘generic’ user data into your own user insights. And insights have the capacity to drive innovation.
Next time you hear people talk about user driven
innovation, ask them if it’s the user that drove the innovation or if it was the organisation’s interpretation of that user.
Join in the discussion on the pros and cons of user-driven innovation by commenting below. Please share your own insights. I am curious what you think!