Why Do Some Companies have UX AND Innovation Teams?

Reflections from my time in product

When I tell people of my time working on (and establishing) innovation teams, I’m often left with a quizzical look. What does that mean, exactly?

Research vs Insights vs Strategy — each builds on the other

What’s Your Desired Outcome?

User Experience Means Optimizing for the User

The other day, Erika Hall tweeted:

If you are designing user experiences that are optimized to capture value for some other party, to the detriment of the user, are you still a UX designer? — Erika Hall (Twitter, 13 Mar 2019)
User Experience design is not data-driven. It’s insight-driven. Data is just raw material for insight. — Andrew Hinton, Twitter, 1 Jul 2009

Serving Another Master: The Business

It’s easy to argue that information should be free and we shouldn’t withhold functionality from some users. Hiding things behind a paywall can be frustrating and is definitely ‘not an ideal user experience.’

A SaaS application offers some functionality for free, and ties other features to a paid plan
  • sell doodads for a higher price
  • lower the cost of creating doodads
  • lower the cost of delivering doodads
  • etc

Exploration vs Exploitation

Of course, not every team has PMs, and especially early on in a company’s existence, it may be much leaner. An early reviewer of this post, Sara McWhorter Hill, asked “would you say an early-stage company is in a ‘state of innovation?’ When everyone is focused to some level of finding product-market fit, and identifying opportunities? At this point, I made her stop talking to me and returned to this post to write more :-)

The 2% Companies Excel at Innovation (Exploration) and Efficiency (Exploitation) — Sources: BCG Henderson Institute

Uh, we’re not talking about UX anymore, are we?

Oh! Well, I suppose that’s up to you. It’s definitely customer-centric, although this level of strategic decision-making often is conducted behind closed doors. I hate those doors, which is why I’ve done my best to nudge them open with a big sword labeled “INNOVATION”.

Sr UX Specialist with Canada Revenue Agency, former web dev and product person. 🔎 Lifelong learner. Unapologetic introvert. Plant-powered marathoner. Cat mom.