The Product Failure Bin

ABOVE: "Wacky Hybrid Appliances" from This Old House On-Line

My family used to have a gag gift that would show up every Christmas in someone's gift pile. The "Boob Bath Mat" never failed to shock and awe.

Each year, it seemed as if the victim never saw it coming.

Lots of time and energy goes into products that never see the light of a showroom floor. So, how did this monstrous mash-up product ever make it to the marketplace?

Someone--a team of someones, in fact--had to propose the idea, design it, send the specs to a factory in China, produce a catalog layout, write sales copy, coordinate the shipping, etc.

Since innovation is being touted as our only way out of the eco-financial desert of Western Civ, we had better get smart about finding, designing and deploying good ideas.

Six Ways to Avoid Landing in the Product Failure Bin provides a good list of tenets to follow for product innovation in The New Economy. 

From Fast Company by Mark Dziersk, VP Design at Brandimage-Desgrippes & Laga, one of the world's largest design and branding firms:

  1. Don't have a casual relationship with the truth. 
  2. Side effects can kill repurchase. 
  3. If the emperor has no clothes, say so. 
  4. Knock yourself off before someone else does.
  5. Go fast even if you don't need to. 
  6. Facebook is the new focus group. 

(Of course, we would add a 7th one: "Make your ideas visual ASAP!")

What is emerging, however, is a process beyond the traditional process of: Think-Design-Produce-Sell-Results-Think Again. Instead, the design process is now interactive.

The tricky thing is this: Brands don't interact, people interact.

Clay Shirky, in this interview, explains why us normal people feel so removed from the picture perfect version of life that advertisers have "cleaned up right to the edges".

This interaction--through countless channels and media morphologies--is a constantly breaking wave of continuous innovation through continuous conversation.

It is what Trendwatching dubs "foreverism":

FOREVERISM | Encompasses the many ways that consumers and businesses are embracing conversations, relationships, and products that are never done. Driving its popularity is technology that allows them to find, follow, interact and collaborate forever with anyone & anything.

For the finest thinking in the Design Revolution, especially for the other 90% of the world's citizens, check out the work inspired by Paul Polak.