Apple & Ikea: Companies Should Lead Users

Source: Fast Company Design, Feb 2011

Be a Visionary

If users can’t tell a company what to do, what should companies do instead? The best brands are all guided by a clear vision for the world, a unique set of values, and a culture that makes them truly unique and that no user insights could ever change.

They define their own rules.The vision must come first. This could come from the client, designers, a team, an organization, or a design leader. It needs to be clear and applied consistently over the project.

But as studies of successful innovations and creativity shows, creating something new is a chaotic, unpredictable, frustrating, and very, very hard process. And most of all, it’s the result of extraordinary efforts and visions of a few extremely talented people. These creative people will feel limited and bored, not inspired, if they have to start out a creative process with a lot of user knowledge. Their inspiration comes from a multiple of sources and is highly individual.

User focus makes companies miss out on disruptive innovations

Focusing on users will lead companies to make incremental innovations that typically tend to make the products more expensive and complicated and ironically, in the long run, less competitive.

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