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Innovation • July 2016

How to innovate like Spiderman

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How to innovate like Spiderman

Ian Clausen
This article was contributed by
Ian Clausen

Humans are natural innovators. We move, we evolve, and we search for what’s next—it’s just in our DNA. Great minds, armed with the right tools, are creating new advancements and technologies almost every day. It’s a modern world with a constant churn of exciting innovation. 

But is innovation always beneficial? Look, I get it: innovation seems awesome. But it’s important to remove ourselves, get a fresh perspective, and ask: is this what’s next or is this what’s new. Because there is a very distinct difference—and that difference is purpose

Be like Spiderman

Let me begin by quoting one of the greatest scholars of our time—Uncle Ben from Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Obviously, at the time Uncle Ben was telling a very angst-ridden Peter Parker to “shape up,” but I like to think that it also applies to evaluating technological innovation. I know that feels like a stretch, but just hang in there for a second:

The velocity at which the “digital age” has empowered us is both amazing and frightening at the same time. We’re surrounded by sophisticated tools, languages, and code that allow us to accomplish tasks with less time, at lower costs, and with much greater precision. It’s almost like we’ve been bitten by a radioactive spider…am I right?!

But again, with that power comes responsibility. We have a responsibility to our work and to our audiences to innovate with purpose. There is no benefit to building without strategic thinking. To be meaningful, you have to approach innovation as part of a greater ecosystem of advancement— not just a singular site/app/functionality that serves no greater purpose.

Oh, what an interesting web we’ve woven. See what I did there?

So, how do we make it purposeful?

Purposeful innovation is about bridging understanding and pragmatism to solve current problems. And at Rational, innovations in our work follow a strict and strategic process to ensure that we’re always building with purpose.

At Rational we “start from the start,” which for us means taking the time to fully understand the problem we’re trying to solve. This involves asking a lot of questions, like: who is the audience? What does success look like? And, perhaps most importantly: how do we fail? Fully exploring these types of questions set up our technology team to understand the why, so they can purposefully build the how.

This is the pragmatism that we apply to our work, but from this foundation we flex our double helix of creativity and strategy to provide a framework for addressing the problem to attain the desired result.

We also try to apply this process at the most atomic level possible to increase the velocity of testing our hypothesis. Because in innovation, great ideas are rarely spontaneous moments of genius, but rather a commitment to the scientific method.

Purpose in Action

In the very near future, we’ll experience the impact of purposeful innovation like never before. The Seaboard RISE from ROLI, for example, personifies how computer peripheral design will completely change the way we interact with technology. Similarly, building blocks on virtual reality, like Leap Motion, will provide a new standard for innovative user experience.

It’s an exciting time to be a technology consumer. And an even more exciting time to be an innovator.