IA Summit 2007, March 22-26 at the Flamingo Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Main conference presentation

Finding Innovation in the five hundred pound gorilla

Kevin Cheng, Tom Wailes

Sunday March 25 2007, 2:45 - 3:30PM

Taking one step forward at a time gets you nowhere unless you know where you are going.

The daily grind of the designer and information architect can become very focused and repetitive. Project after project, client after client, iteration after iteration, we work through the motions of wireframes, card sorts, hierarchies and task flows ad nauseum. How do we break away from this cycle and step away far enough that we can truly explore, innovate and define strategy? In this Yahoo! case study, we discuss the process navigated to free up an entire design team away from the regular product cycle to work on a “vision project” for a three week duration with the full support from senior management, product management and engineering.

We will discuss the steps we took, both at the micro project level as well as setting expectations with upper management to make such a project come to fruition. We will explore the motivation behind such an endeavour and the challenges we faced.

A large focus of the presentation will be on the process of the project itself

  • what worked well and what lessons we learned for future efforts of a similar nature. We’ll be discussing the importance of creating this project to define the strategy of the product, as opposed to simply iterating without direction. Through a series of trial and error, we also will be able to discuss how the more visual storytelling outputs were far more engaging and well received than other approaches we tried.
  • In addition we will discuss how this project influenced and was integrated into the subsequent project planning, design and development lifecycle. Finally, we will discuss some other initiatives we’re aware of that attempt to address what we call "innovation stagnation" both within the company and without.

Download the audio file for Finding Innovation in the five hundred pound gorilla (thanks to Donna Maurer for the audio)

IA Summit 2007