What Made Steve Jobs So Great

Writing the day after Steve Jobs announced his resignation from Apple, Co.Design editor Cliff Kuang identifies what made the innovator special: his ability to look at tech as a user rather than as a line manager.

Four Ways To Spot Markets Ripe For Disruption

In this essay, Luke Williams, a fellow at Frog, argues that disruptive hypotheses fail not because they’re too radical, because they lack customer insight. If you want to create a game-changing product or service, become acutely aware of the needs of its potential user. Doing so will lead you not just to identifying large, glaring problems to solve but subtle opportunities to innovate.

The 6 Pillars Of Steve Jobs's Design Philosophy

Beyond some phenomenal products, Steve Jobs helped define exactly what good design meant for the computer age. But what, exactly, were his most enduring ideals?

There Are Three Types Of Innovation. Here's How To Manage Them

Not all innovations perform the same way. While disruptive innovations stand to yield the greatest payoff for a company, the key to maintaining a successful business, asserts Jump’s Conrad Wai, is to manage the risks and rewards of all three types of innovation--sustaining, breakout, disruptive--as you would a financial portfolio.

Why Do B-Schools Still Teach The Famed 4P's Of Marketing, When Three Are Dead?

In one of our most discussion-sparking posts of the year, Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen ask a provocative question: Why do we still preach the golden 4P’s--product, price, place, and promotion--when only one of them (product) is still relevant?

The 3 Biggest Barriers To Innovation, And How To Smash Them

How do you find the next disruptive idea--an idea that inspires a sense of what’s possible? It certainly isn’t easy, but in this must-read essay, Luke Williams provides some canny advice on tackling the roadblocks that commonly stand in the way of transformative concepts.

Why Do We Hold Fast To Losing Strategies?

When the odds aren’t in our favor, our typical response is to bet more aggressively, even though the better strategy is to change direction, Tim Harford writes in this excerpt from Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. That rule is as applicable to designing a product as it is to playing poker.

Branding Is About Creating Patterns, Not Repeating Messages

Successful branding isn’t about repetition, argues Method’s Marc Shillum, but rather the ability to be flexible in creating patterns that add up to a recognizable whole.

Wanna Create A Great Product? Fail Early, Fail Fast, Fail Often

Failure and innovation go hand-in-hand, writes Method’s Jeremy Jackson: “Do your product or service a favor: Embrace failure and blueprint a plan that affords you the opportunity to do it early and often.” The message: Prototype your butt off.

Four Keys To Creating Products For The Lady Gaga Generation

The purchasing power of Gen-Yers rivals that of Boomers, but how do you reach them? Smart Design’s Sarah Nagle shares her insight into the values of her own socially connected, Internet-savvy generation.

The Mac Inventor's Gift Before Dying: An Immortal Design Lesson for His Son

Aza Raskin recalls the last present he received from his father, the man who helped invent the Mac’s interface. You won’t be able to guess what it is.

Co.Design

The 11 Best Innovation Essays We Published In 2011

When company executives talk strategy, the question, whether spoken or implicit, invariably is, How can we be more like Apple? How do we develop those radical products that disrupt what people thought was possible?

In looking for answers, the best place to start is Steve Jobs himself, whose passing this year imparted a personal sense of loss even among those who hadn’t met him. Never before had pieces of technology become inextricably connected to one person’s singular vision; his groundbreaking products—which revolutionized music, smartphones, and personal computing—seem to embody Jobs, the ultimate tech user.

But you don’t have to be Jobs to hit on the next big thing. Taken together, these essays provide a roadmap for tackling the barriers to innovation and for investing the time and space necessary to fostering disruptive ideas. A big theme this year: Embracing failure as a necessary part of the process. So in 2012, go forth and fail—just don’t put all your creative eggs in one basket. We’ll keep you company along the way.

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9 Comments

  • Spudmachine

    I agree with ZXC, but without the swear word :-)

    How do I read any of these essays?  I've been clicking everywhere I can think of with no success.  Is this an example of "innovative user interface design"?

  • Lindsay Manahan


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  • Mel Klue

    Business innovation and transformative concepts- Three barriers to success: L.Williams  looks at  the roadblocks that stand in the way of  business innovation- a highlight on  this  list.    But all 11  essays selected here are highly recommended. 

  • Guest

    Really enjoyed learning from the other contributors on this list. Thanks for including me -- it's an honor.

  • jamey boiter

    all great reads, belinda. and so true. lessons to be learned and processes to surely be adopted by all in any area of innovation.

    thanks for your contributions this year. have enjoyed working with you!

  • Rick

    100% accurate! The organization chart is an illustration of impediments that must be overcome as part of the process of innovation.  Want an innovative organization? Replace the org chart with a supply chain.

  • Cdowdey Design

    The key ingredient to powerful design is the empowerment of the design (team) culture..to really do the work. Very often the executives with the most power to influence the design process are the least qualified and it simply stops and or
    limits the design process.....with internal corporate politics and or power plays of control and ...you eventually get what you got by proxy?
    To compliment your thoughts on the relevancy of failure in the design process
    my other pet peeve is that the design culture seems to embrace the totally  FALSE premise that all good design comes from someone younger that 27, living either on the West Coast or a pedigree from Europe...now how dumb is that and it's true!

  • Barry Carbaugh

    All great articles. Especially the one on failing early and fast. I have developed an innovation filtering process that allows you to do just that. Identify failures early on so you can focus 0n ideas that are winners.