Innovation and Design for Outcomes

Marketers often speak about the importance of design and innovation for new product development. Think about the products designed by Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and more. Beautiful designs coupled with easy-to-use functionality are what we think of when considering innovative design.

But is the design the only thing that matters? Does every product that has won design awards and accolades achieve success in the marketplace? Unfortunately, no – innovative design does not translate into market acceptance, or even a good product.

In this TED Talks video, Timothy Prestero (the founder and CEO of Deign that Matters, a nonprofit organization that works with entrepreneurs on products for developing countries) discusses his own experiences with product innovation geared for developing countries. Prestero candidly discusses his experience developing an infant incubator for developing nations – a product that won TIME Magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2010.”

Beautiful design – yes. Practical product implemented in hospitals – no. The lesson for innovators and inventors is that good design needs to focus on who will use the product – as well as all the ways that the product can be used incorrectly. As Preston said in his talk, “There’s no such thing as a dumb user; there are only dumb products.”

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. View the 11 minute video at
  2. Discussion question: Ask students their opinions on what makes for a good product design? What is important in product innovation?
  3. In teams, have students develop a research plan for designing a new product for an industry of their choice. Use these industries as suggestions to get them started: healthcare, automotive, television, foods, clothing, air travel, transportation, candy, soft drinks, etc.
  4. How should the use research be conducted?
  5. What are other implications of the design process? Who should be consulted and included in the process?
  6. Discuss the concept of “design for outcomes.” What are the implications of this statement?

Source:  TED Talks, other news sources

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities

Leave a Reply