Resistance and Design Intervention

First – That’s design not divine, OK? We are talking about outcomes that have to be worked for not wished for…

In a Wall Street Journal Irving Wladawsky-Berger discusses an idea pulled from a series of four articles in the September Harvard Business Review on the Evolution of Design Thinking.

I am just going to pull a few quotes here because he says it well and you can follow the link to read it all.

“When first introduced, disruptive innovations are likely to encounter stiff resistance, both within one’s own organization and in the marketplace, otherwise we wouldn’t call them disruptive. The article argues that we should apply design thinking to the launch of the disruptive innovation itself – a process they call intervention design.”

And later:

“The concept of intervention design is brilliant but even harder to explain unless, you’ve personally gone through the experience of trying to introduce a new, disruptive idea, first to your own colleagues, later in the marketplace.”

And then…

“…when it comes to disruptive innovations, the key to success is generally not the technology itself, but the ability to overcome the cultural and marketing issues that will cause your own organization and/or the marketplace to reject the idea at first.”

So how…

the article suggests, intervention design should be based on the same rapid prototyping principles that play such a major role in design thinking, including continuous experimentation, learning and refining. This requires introducing alpha and beta designs to get early feedback, and steadily improve the offering until the intended users are satisfied.”

The articles is at:


That last para is iterated in the HBR in an article by Tim Brown and Roger Martin titled: Design for Action:

no matter how deep the up-front understanding was, designers wouldn’t really be able to predict users’ reactions to the final product.”

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