Innovation Blog

“Think Behavioral, Not Technological”

By Shlomo Maital

Maddock and Viton

G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Viton write an excellent blog for Business Week, called “The Innovation Engine”.

In their latest blog (July 27), they write about how to innovate via mobile devices.  They recommend: “think behavioral, not technological”.  This advice is general, and applies to all varieties of innovation.  Think lifestyle, think sociology, think about how people want to live and how they use devices to help them live they way they want — and THEN think about pulling the technology and design that will fulfill people’s needs.

Here are their five rules for behaviorally innovating mobile devices:

1) The world loves instant gratification.  People are impatient. If you can design mobile devices and related apps that satisfies people’s needs instantly (not in one second, or three seconds, but in less than a millisecond), you have a winner.   Incidentally:  How come Microsoft has never yet been able to create an operating system that launches instantly when you turn on your computer?   Why does the Mac operating system launch faster?  And why, then, are we PC users second-class citizens — and accept it?

2) We like filling time vs. killing time.  Mobile devices help people “fill time”, in four to 10 minute increments.  Can you create ways to let people begin, and end, a task or an experience, in 4-10 minutes?

3) We crave superhero powers. We want to be everywhere, talk to everyone, connect with anyone, do anything, all at the same time.  Can you enable this simultaneity, simply, easily, without baffling the poor user?

4) We modify, adapt, hack, and generally MacGyver everything.   The blog authors say there are now more than 200,000 apps for iPhone!  The PC defeated the Mac, originally, because its open system generated far more software.  Did Apple learn its lesson?  Harness the brainpower of thousands and millions of software creators,  app inventors, and you vastly enhance the power and value of the iPhone.  Create platforms others eagerly use, to modify, adapt, hack and MacGyver.

5) We think of our mobile device as our “No. 1 recovery tool”.   Mobile devices are there when we need help.  This use is rarely stressed, but it is perhaps crucial —  it is why most people feel desperate if they happen to forget their mobile device.  This behavioral need — for security, for the ability to call for help when needed — is fundamental.  And it is a fact that the simple cell phone has saved many thousands of lives, in this way.  Understand the fundamental ways devices create true value, ways that people often are not able to articulate, by observing them closely.