Tag Archives: Tom Kelley

The encore ends, & a new story begins…?

26 Jan

Not disqualified, but not meeting criteria either…

Transcript of dialogue, part II:

Thank you for your detailed explanation and valuable feedback. We have received your Book Bag prototype and must say that your design is very unique. If there is an opportunity, we will re-visit your prototype.

We will not disqualified any entry (including yours) as we value all participants’ efforts and support. However, it is our responsibility to highlight to participants if their entries did not meet the key contest criteria as this will comprise a high weightage in the total score. All entries will be evaluated by a panel of judges.

Once again thank you for your support and participation.


Thank you for taking the time to review the Book Bag and clarifying the situation. I would love to hear any additional feedback from the judging panel, if possible.

I’m also looking forward to future opportunities to work with NLB on higher-order design / design management – of business systems around products/services – such as the possibilities proposed through the Book Bag.

Just to let you know too – I am also in the process of considering an additional, separate submission of a different design.

Thank you for your taking time to reply! ūüôā

So what this this all mean?


The righteous pain of the entrepreneurial designer

Early communication is key

This is a key lesson for designers who dare propose design pieces as a larger business proposal to clients without getting prior buy-in or feedback – your client may simply not want your extra effort! Or they may have other business goals in mind which they didn’t share with an outsider. Or they simply think a designer’s place is only to design pretty things and isn’t about making business proposals. Or they may just not be ready to hear what you are proposing and had to brush you off so that they could move ahead with the project. Or they found you meddlesome in their inner operations. Or or or…

No matter what the reason, to be truly effective and innovative, all sides and stakeholders have to buy into it, or else an idea dies at the seedling stage, no matter how ground-breaking or game-changing the innovation is!

I guess in this case, unlike typical outsourced design projects, there wasn’t the privilege of seeking early buy-in due to the contest format. I wonder if there had been anything I could have done earlier on that could have prevented a U-turn like that… though my feel is that the answer would have been the same, even if I had clarified earlier. And I would have still went ahead to design this Book Bag anyway, as I believed in that it’s the best solution to a real-life problem (not the artificial limits set for the sake of the contest). I had bore out a hope that the Book Bag solution would be potentially mind-opening that it could bypass the administrative barriers…but I guess that wasn’t realistic enough.

The truth is…in the corporate world, implementation is the other half of the battle for innovation where the odds of success are even slimmer (than the success of creation of innovative ideas). The other “faces of innovation” – so aptly put by Tom Kelley in his book¬†The Ten Faces of Innovation – are the “Organising personas” such as the “Hurdler” and the “Director” who can overcome the obstacles and make the other half (the implementation half) of innovation truly happen.


Next move?

I’m considering the Book Bag submission as submitted and under consideration for the contest, though I’m not sure how open-minded the judging panel might be in assessing it.

I’m also thinking of sending in a similar but ‘dumbed down’ entry. It feels a bit like betraying the originality and intention of the Book Bag, but does it? I think I made my point through the submission and the email dialogue to and fro, advocating for the holistic perspective behind the Book Bag concept. And there’s little else more to do, but to sit and wait for the stars to align and the “East wind to blow”, as the famous Chinese proverb so said. There may be some conceptual weight left to leverage yet, through a second separate entry. If ¬†the ‘lite/free’ version gets through and gets popular widespread buy-in, then people may want to buy the ‘HD/paid’ version for more value. This is the freemium business model so popular with web-based services such as Skype, Flickr and apps in Apple’s App Store, and analogous to the situation perhaps…

So……another long design journey of the Book Bag version 2 or Book Bag ‘lite’? NO!!!¬†That would be too painful and painstaking. I’ll build on the work done already, and let you know soon if it’s even possible!