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There's a sneaky myth that lies inside of the current start-up biz climate that we all live in. We understand that the world is changing rapidly, and therefore we must change with it. We must stay agile. We must be able to predict, pivot, act, react... it's as if the internet and the speed with which information flies around is so fast that business feels more like a game of basketball and every startup company is just another player on the court, making hard cuts, juking and jiving, waiting for their moment to shoot that three pointer. And inside of all that movement and sneakers squealing on hardwood... there's one word that seems to be the golden calf of it all:


If a company isn't being innovative, what ARE they being?! But I would submit a different way of thinking:

Innovation is useless if it's not serving to honestly add value.

Far too many companies are striving to be innovative simply for the sake of being innovative. But innovation is not the end-all. Innovation is a tool. OOr perhaps better put, it's a conduit by which we arrive at solutions to add value or make life better. Some acquaintances of mine are starting a company that uses a device on the dash of your car to help you find open parking spots. Instead of driving around and looking for open spots, they notify you exactly where those spots are located, and pre-pay for your parking so that you never have to worry about a ticket on your  windshield from an expired meter. The technology itself, and the device they've built, is actually not that innovative. But the idea, and the execution of that idea, add incredible value to the life of anyone trying to find parking in the DC metro area! 

The point is this: the litman's test for if that project you're working on is worthwhile is found in asking, "does the end result of this innovation add real value?" If the answer is no, stop it and redirect your energy.



The Secret behind UX: BE HUMAN

User experience... or UX as all the cool kids call it... is an important slice of the pie. It's the place where the thing you've been pouring your energy into intersects with the humans for whom it was made. And this angle of industry is ubiquitous because essentially it's function is to make sure that when that happens -- when people touch / feel / experience what you've worked so hard on... it's a genuinely positive situation. UX is not limited to a department. Proper UX should be woven through the fabric of your brand/organization/product from start to finish. Here's why:


To effectively filter your ____ through UX, you simply must approach it with empathy at every step of the journey. From "What question does this answer or problem does it solve?" to "Does this aspect of the design create a seamless engagement for the human interacting with it?" ... To literally every other question you should be asking -- the common thread -- the golden nugget -- the question behind the question -- is always centered around placing oneself in the heart/mind/soul/shoes of that person you intend to engage. It's not just about your product. It's not just about your brand. It's ALWAYS about how those things come in contact with that end user -- and ultimately how it makes them feel.

Here's a quick litmus's test: If you've compromised significant quality or design that you know is better/important to the people you touch -- you aren't being empathetic. Try again. Be human.