When I first wrote about the 3 D matrix, developed by Niblettes, in my previous post, it was to use it as an example of how a designer’s ability to translate a complex concept – from the written to the graphic – allowed an abstract idea, that would normally take a few thousand words to explain, hypothetically to be grasped, in one glance.
Now however, I’ve had some time to contemplate the sense of what he’s saying and I intend to poke some holes in the matrix, so to speak. Let’s take his original inspiration, this 2×2 matrix from Blogrium on the sociology of innovation,
I find it self explanatory, and will just add his explanation for the third dimension, which he titles "execution intelligence" – the Z axis.
So these four quadrants [referring to the 2×2 matrix above] seem to cover the reality of product design
and development quite nicely. However, I was still unsatisfied.
Something was missing. And toward the end of the post there it was:
constraints. The 2-D model does not include one’s ability to navigate
By constraint navigation I’m refering to execution intelligence: the
ability to successfully act on what has been percieved. Sure you can
see differences and similarities, but can you take that vision to
market (financial market, product market, idea market, what ever)? No
market, no innovation.
What is missing from the matrix is the role of strategy – that is, not a design strategist, but the strategy that includes the role the product being designed plays, within the context of a market, with firm objectives in mind and the requisite roadmap to get there. For, in today’s world, the design of a product or service or communication cannot be seen in isolation from the total corporate strategy.
Successful strategy implies execution intelligence – one usually knows which strategies will work where through a combination of experience and knowledge
Therefore, in the context of Niblettes’ matrix, I would replace ‘Innovator’ with ‘inventor’ and state that when the individual execution of design, design research, styling and invention can each be leveraged within their constraints into a cohesive strategy with a singular vision do we achieve true innovation. That is, to paraphrase my favourite professor, John Heskett, an invention is an innovation when it is embraced by the user.