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Artistic Approach To Innovation

Chris Gregory

Over a 50+ year history HLB has seen and helped develop a wide array of products spanning various industries and markets.  Today we continue to work with Fortune 200 as well as start-up organizations and everything in between.  Whether as a result of highly formulated market research or identifying a need from personal experience, I am continually amazed at how product ideas and concepts originate.  Given our relentless pursuit to address user needs, we are always looking for new and interesting paths to innovation.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit with Tim Morrison of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.  He shared a project he is working on for the Chicago Incubator for Innovation, part of the Art of Science Learning program being hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry. The Art of Science Learning, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative based in New York City, has also launched similar incubators in San Diego, California at the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Ecotarium. The project uses a newly designed curriculum that brings arts based learning together with training in innovation to spark creativity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. 

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Prototype Your Product, Protect Your Brand

Live prototyping provides a fantastic window into the users environment and how well your solution addresses their needs.  Additionally, the prototype process empowers product development teams to more effectively address user needs and if managed correctly, can create a sense of shared ownership among your best customers.  Below is a great piece discussing the benefits of live prototyping.

by David Aycan and Paolo Lorenzoni

Designers and entrepreneurs have been experimenting with live prototyping — putting unfinished product ideas in the context of real markets and real customer situations — for years, and now bigger businesses have begun to catch on. Many executives, eager to avoid over-investing in the wrong ideas, are intrigued by this approach, but they’re leery of putting unpolished products and services out in the market. Might we tarnish our brand? Will customers trust us less once they’ve experienced the rough edges of our prototype? Might we expose our strategy to competitors?

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Move Over Product Design, UX Is The Future

At HLB the Voice of the Customer provides vital insight throughout the product development process and does not end with the concept phase.

Rick Wise, CEO of Lippincott, says experience innovation is the next design imperative. Here are five things you can do this year to make that happen.

Written By Rick Wise

For decades, the most successful businesses thrived on product innovation as the natural strategy to increase revenues, market share, and loyalty. Fast forward to 2014: today’s product innovations, and the growth they create, are often incremental, narrow, and fleeting. Take TVs or PCs--every competitor quickly matches the latest features, speed, brightness. As a result, companies are finding that returns from product efforts are harder to rely on. Among the Global Innovation 1000, R&D spending rose 5.8% last year, yet revenue for those companies increased less than 1%. Global competition and technological diffusion mean that competitors quickly catch up with most improvements, while the transparency of digital and social media also prompts consumers to quickly switch allegiance with each new alluring offer.

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Outsourced Product Development Gaining Popularity

A great product idea alone is no guarantee of success for an entrepreneur. The time taken to develop a product and take it to market within reasonable costs is a key aspect.

Steve Owens, a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience, was always frustrated by how long it took to put good product development teams together and bring a product to market. And each time, he had to incur fixed costs for setting up the infrastructure and developing the product. All this reduced the flexibility and risk-taking ability of his startups and got him thinking.

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How To Design For Human Nature

Here's a great example of keeping things simple and focused on commonsense.  Step back and don't over-think the solution.

By David Lai for Fast Company - Co.Design

Today, most of us would admit to being overwhelmed with the abundant options made available through technological advances. When it comes to determining which products to use for navigating our daily lives, we typically embrace the simpler digital platforms and products. Many small businesses, for example, choose Square to automatically link accounts and payments because of its simple UI. Similarly, Nest solved the complexities involved with operating and programing thermostats, a concept so popular that Google acquired the company.

These choices have a lot to do with the way humans are hardwired. Research on cognitive fluency--whether or not something is easy to think about--has shown that this ability to process things easily shapes what we believe, how we invest, and what we think is beautiful. Simply put, people gravitate toward ideas that are simple to understand.
"Simply put, people gravitate toward ideas that are simple to understand."

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Don't Have Great Ideas? Work With Someone Who Does

This is a huge part of what we love at HLB, collaborating with innovative people and companies.  Keeps things exciting and new.
By Stephen Key for Entrepreneur
I recently wrote about how desperate companies are for new ideas, with open innovation changing the game. But what if you’re not creative and don’t have any ideas? You can still take advantage of this enormous opportunity even if innovation isn’t your thing. How? By becoming a product scout. Talented product designers need help connecting their ideas to the companies who might want to buy them -- and vice-versa.

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When Product Design Makes Your Customers Feel Smart

By Kumar Srivstava for Entrepreneur

Users love products and services that make them feel smarter. The more efficiently they can spend their valuable attention, time and money, the smarter they feel. The smarter that users feel when interacting with your product, the more they love it. We call this the smart-user theorem.

Strong examples of the smart-user theorem in action abound. Facebook and Instagram save users time by enabling them to connect and share with friends and family quickly and efficiently. Similarly, apps have become popular and ubiquitous, partly because of their availability to fulfill virtually any need or task.

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GOOD DESIGN Awards 2013

GOOD DESIGN™ Awards 2013

I was recently honored to be one of five jurors for the 2013 GOOD DESIGN Awards. Founded in 1950 by Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames and Ray Eames, GOOD DESIGN is “the oldest and most prestigious awards program for the best world design.” GOOD DESIGN is organized annually by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in cooperation with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies. Entries are submitted annually by various industrial design and graphic design firms working with Fortune 500 companies. One of the main factors for the awards selection is based on whether or not a product can enrich society and people's lives through its design. While I gained insight into several current design themes and trends, connectivity and an increased emphasis on human factors appear to be primary driving forces of today’s design inspiration.

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Meaningful Design® At HLB

Over the past several months we have noticed product planning evolve from a focus on simple, incremental revisions to full-blown, innovative new strategies. Seeing 2013 as a breakthrough year, HLB is focused on the future. As a result, we are looking to hone and strengthen our product development and management services as the need for research, design, and engineering expertise accelerates. Through a more thorough understanding of present industry needs HLB will continue to align and position our capabilities and processes to best complement and collaborate with partner organizations resulting in increased efficiency, quality, and ROI.

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Adams™ Smart Shield® Applicator Recognized as Product of the Year

Adams™ Smart Shield® Applicator Recognized as Product of the Year

Adams™ flea and tick control delivery device wins with consumers looking for smarter pet care solutions.

WALNUT CREEK, CA – February 12, 2013 -- Product of the Year USA, the nation’s largest consumer-driven packaged good competition, has announced Adams™ Smart Shield® Applicator, a flea and tick control innovation from the Central Garden & Pet Company, as the Pet Care Category Winner for 2013. This coveted vote of consumer confidence is based on a robust survey of 50,138 everyday shoppers and recognized nationwide as a trusted benchmark for the most innovative products on the market.

“This national recognition from Product of the Year affirms and inspires Central Garden & Pet’s commitment to provide pet owners with smarter pet care solutions,” said Steve LeVeau, Director of Marketing for Animal Health, Adams Pet Products.  “The aisle for flea and tick control products has become increasingly crowded with a vast array of solutions for pet owners.  We are honored that the Adams™ Smart Shield® Applicator has been distinguished as the consumer’s preferred choice for its innovation and quality.”

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Top Ten Reasons Why Your Company Is Not Innovative

Organizations are always looking for ways to be innovative, but not all companies find them. Are you wondering why everyone else in your industry is passing you by? Below I present to you 10 reasons why your company may not have caught the innovation bug. Some of these ideas are tried and true, some are the work of innovative companies like 3M and Google, and some are just plain common sense.

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HLB's Office Has Moved

After 27 years at our previous location, HLB has moved to the bourgeoning West Loop, Fulton Market neighborhood. Our beautifully renovated warehouse space provides new offices for our industrial design, engineering, and business operations functions as well as onsite mechanical and electrical engineering labs. The move is another step in a series that HLB is taking to help ensure our services and operations are flexible and adaptive to evolving client needs.

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Designing In Green

A medical product designed for reuse can eliminate the need to stock disposables and reduce the amount of medical waste. A medical product designed for reuse can also require space, manpower, and time for the process of cleaning and sterilization, including the safe storage of the item between medical procedures. So, which is greener? The reusable item that must be washed, sterilized, packaged, and stored, or the single-use item that must be discarded after each use?

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Studying How We Use Gadgets Makes For Better Designs

Possibly no one knows more about how and why we use gadgets than the folks who design them. Studying the behaviors and attitudes of potential users before designing a product is often the best practice, said Andrew Macey, chief operating officer of Herbst LaZar Bell Inc., a product-design firm better known as HLB, with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Waltham, Mass.

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HLB Design For Smith & Nephew Receives Gold IDEA Award

HLB, long known as Herbst LaZar Bell, today was named a Gold winner in the 2008 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) competition. The product strategy, design, and development firm has offices in both Chicago and Boston, and has been a leader in the industry for over 45 years. The IDEA competition is co-sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and BusinessWeek.

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Research Rocks The Operating Room

“Using this hammer makes me feel like a rock star.” That's what an orthopedic surgeon exclaimed after using the suite of surgical tools developed by HLB Design for Smith & Nephew's Journey Bi-Cruciate Stabilized Knee System.

Achieving the Smith & Nephew's ‘rock star moment’ began with a research process that took a holistic view of knee-replacement surgeries. A team of researchers, designers, and engineers observed surgical preparations, the actual surgeries, and post-op briefings to see how surgeons and nurses use the tools, and how they interact with one another.

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Design Innovations Require Patents Or Do They

Those involved in the design and development of tomorrow's medical devices must take into account the intellectual property associated with their innovations. This may or may not lead to pursuit of a patent. Even though a design process won't always result in the need for or the justification of a patent, intellectual property is an important consideration for those developing tomorrow's solutions to today's needs. There are two patents to consider: the utility patent, which recognizes and protects the mechanism, or the way something works. The other is the design patent, which recognizes and protects the appearance of the solution. If the appearance of the product is important to the accomplishment of the result, the design patent may be valuable.

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What Is Good Design, What Is Good Design Practice

New Form + Function Club welcomes design expert Walter Herbst. Key to good practice is understanding what customers really need, not just what they say they need. These were the questions that Kellogg School students discussed with award-winning designer Walter Herbst on Feb. 14. Herbst addressed the Kellogg community at the kick-off event for Form + Function, the new Kellogg design and innovation strategy club. His lecture took place in the Donald P. Jacobs Center.

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Setting The Bar Higher For Industrial Design

Electronic products with cool designs are everywhere these days. Once largely the domain of Apple Computer, industrial design has filtered into every part of our lives. A case in point is a new stainless steel dishwasher from Samsung Electronics. It has a garbage disposal built into it so you don't have to scrape food off plates before putting them in the machine. It also has a deeper food tray so that you can put champagne flutes into it. And an auto-sensor below the dishwasher detects moisture and notifies you of leaks. These smart design details are one reason Samsung can charge more for this dishwasher. Good design is a quick way to a competitive advantage these days.

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Open Innovation

A cross-functional product innovation team is doing a planned “Yoga interruption” to help the creative inspiration flow in a special Innovation workshop. After all you can't be creative for 6 hours straight in a ten-hour workshop, I've found that something like the Yoga thing pays huge dividends. The team has been assembled to solve a Big Problem for a Major Brand. The Innovation process being followed dictates that all disciplines from the client and consultant organizations are represented. One of the client's manufacturing engineers from supply-chain, a guy who probably hasn't seen a gym since '65, is struggling to balance in what our instructor refers to as the “Warrior II Pose”. At that moment I look over and can read his mind. He's saying to himself, “What the *&*+% am I doing here?”

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