Luke Williams - Keynote Address at Web Visions 2010 wv2010

Luke Williams
Creative Director, Frog Design:
Thinking the Unthinkable: Disruptive Innovation
Keynote Address
#wv2010 #webvisions
  • Doing design a few years ago, everyone who came to a design firm would say “we need an iPod”.
    • “We love it because it has a clean design”
    • But why, what made everyone obsessed about why it was so “clean”?
    • Other designer from frog said: “people perceive the ipod as looking clean because its materials resemble the chrome faucets and porcelian of a bathroom.
    • Jonathon Ives, lead iPod/Apple designer was actually a designer of wash basins
  • Now that the iPad is out, when they ask clients what they like about it, they say they like the smoothness of it.
    • Smoothness is always an attribute of perfection. It’s opposite reveals a technical, human intervention.
    • “I dont have to change myself to fit the product, it fits me. One piece of seamless glass.” - Jonathon Ives, Apple lead designer
  • 1: Bob Dylan Songs
    • “to compete” - comes from the latin for “to seek together”. two people running in the same race.
    • Jerry Garcia: “you don’t want to be considered the best of what you do, you want to be the only ones who do what they do.”
      • You want to avoid competing.
    • Frog Design works with Apple back in 1982: Snow White project. 7 products/7 dwarfs
      • One of the product briefs was a printer. The corresponding dwarf was Grumby.
      • Typically a brief for a product contains tons of specifications: price points, features, etc.
      • Steve Jobs said “I want Bob Dylan songs”.
      • Bob Dylan was always innovating, changing his style, and changing his fan base. He was always counter-culture, to whatever the prevailing culture was at the time.
    • Apple was in a position where they needed to wake up. They couldn’t just do what IBM was doing.
    • Similar strategies favor the stronger, while different strategies favor the weaker.
      • Underdogs choose not to play by goliath’s rule.
      • Analysis of wars shows that winning percentage goes from (something like 30% to 60%) if the weaker side uses different strategies.
    • Tesla as an example of totally different direction. Conventional wisdom by all auto manufacturers said there was no way you could do an electric car.
      • But Tesla was founded by silicon valley folks who didnt know anything about electric cars. So they had no restrictions on their thinking, no belief that it couldn’t be done.
    • Once upon a time, it was fine for only a few people to be disruptive, innovative, and creative. 
      • But now in the creative age, everything is a commodity. The only thing that is left that is original is the idea.
      • So now everyone who wants to compete successfully must be creative.
    • All kids are creative. What happens when people get older?
      • The brain is incredibly good at pattern making and recognition.
      • Education establishes patterns that the brain can use over and over again.
      • But once these patterns are established, it is very hard to break out of it.
      • This is where beginner’s mind comes from: they don’t have the pattern, so they can see things from a novel perspective.
      • Patterns are good - expertise is good, but for creative it has to not constraint you.
    • Pattern switching: Example of a competition to make a new trailer for an existing movie. The Shining is one of the scariest horror movies of all time.
      • In the competition, they use a soft voiceover, and a Peter Gabriel soundtrack, and use clips from The Shining: it comes across as a nice romantic buddy buddy movie. (trying googling it.)
    • Examples of breaking out of patterns:
      • Quentin Torrentino: sick of American morality in movies. The hero should take revenge when revenge is called for. The murdered is the hero.
      • TripAdvisor: people want to know that hotels are clean, let’s advertise the list of dirtiest hotels.
      • The Blair Witch Project: convention wisdom is that movies should be marketed 6 months ahead of time. BWP started marketing 2 years ahead of time.
      • Example of sound system advertising: Look for things that have been ignored. Balance, bass, treble. Made visible by having people in choir move around, focus on woman singer, etc.
      • Improv Theatre example of stopping in Grand Central Station: people are practically sleepwalking their way through their lives. But the improv example made people stop in their tracks of their routine, and pay attention.
      • Antiviolence campaign: shows a bullet going through various materials: glass of milk, watermelon, bottle of water, apple. And then shows a child’s head on the screen.
  • 3: The Expectation Gap
    • The Black Swan: The more unexpected the success of a venture, the smaller the number of competitors, and the more successful the entrepreneur who implements the idea.
    • Examples
      • Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman: Foreman never expected a right hand lead, never trained against it, because it was considered a poor move. So Ali used it again and again and got knockout in first round.
      • TV expectation: you will reorganize your schedule around the TV schedule.
        • Tivo rearranged the TV schedule to fit your schedule.
      • Sock expectations: Socks are sold in pairs that match. 
        • Little Mismatched sold socks in sets of 3 that don’t match.
      • Shoe expectation: should look good, should be advertised with models, made with shoe manufacturing techniques. 
        • Crocs are the opposite of all that.
      • beverage expectation: inexpensive, soda, 
      • Exhibition expectations: you go to an exhibition to see and do things. 
        • Gap: What if you want to an exhibition and didnt see or do anything? 
        • The blair building. they walked into a cloud, and couldnt see or do anything, just walk through a cloud.
      • Video game expectation: you play games sitting down and stationary. 
        • Gap: you play games standing up and moving. 
        • Wii
      • Movie expectation: movie budget is two thirds production, one thing marketing.
        • gap: we’ll do two thirds marketing, and one third production.
        • Saw Franchise
      • Rental cars: you have to reserve, wait in line to rent car, rent by the day
        • Zip car: you don’t see anyone, you rent it by the hour
      • Hiring agreement: you are offered a bonus to stay.
        • Zappos: You are offered a bonus to quit after four months.
      • Hospitality expectation: you have a menu, you order from the menu.
        • El Bulli: considered best chef in the world. 5 year waiting list. only open 6 months a year, innovating other 6 months. they cook 30 courses. you get menu only at the end of the meal, signed by chef, as momento.
      • Sitcom expectation: hugging and learning (characters develop)
        • gap: new rule: no hugging, no learning (characters do not develop)
        • Seinfeld
    • Comedy: comedians excel at figuring out patterns, and then breaking those patterns. 
    • You have to start with a “what if” provation. What if we sell socks that don’t match in sets of three? You need to crack the expectation gap to begin with, and then work out what happens. 
      • What if Darth Vader went to the canteen on the Death Star?
    Warning, contains some offensive language:

Mike took some really great notes and synthesized them well:

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