Nordstrom’s Innovation Lab: Sunglasses iPad app case study

by Simon. Average Reading Time: about a minute.

By applying a healthy dose of Lean and Agile methodologies to projects, the waterfall model of software development has been replaced leading to rapid innovation and learning.

It’s one thing to talk about ‘rapid experimentation’ and ‘validated learning’ as abstract concepts. It’s quite another to see them in action, in a real-world setting.Eric Ries, Startup Lessons Learned

Nordstrom has put Eric Reis’ statement into practice by creating an ‘innovation lab’. The following video is an interesting case study on Lean UX and what Nordstrom are doing to embrace innovation.


Here are some of the highlights from the video:

  • One week experiments. Innovation and agility is notoriously difficult for large organisations such as Nordstrom, but by working in one week iterations, the lab is able to break from the usual corporate slowness. In the video above, the team creates a usable product in one week.
  • Simple and rapid experimentation. By having two iPads, the team were able to use one for testing, while another was loaded with the latest version of the software, cutting down the time needed to deploy each release.
  • Innovation on the shop floor. By being on the shop floor, the lab is able to rapidly prototype and test their ideas with real users: the salespeople and customers. This also allows them to identify an opportunity and execute it extremely quickly. An example is when the team discover iPad screens can’t be seen in portrait when wearing polaroid sunglasses.

Arguably, innovation should flow through the veins of everyone in the company, but where that is unrealistic, or impossible, ‘innovation labs’ such as Nordstrom’s, are helping to extol the virtues of the Lean movement.

This article has been tagged

, , , , , , , ,

Other articles I recommend

How to Make Design Thinking Part of the Innovation Drill

The myth of creative genius is resilient: We believe that great ideas pop fully formed out of brilliant minds, in feats of imagination well beyond the abilities of mere mortals. But Design Thinking is neither a sudden breakthrough nor the lightning strike of genius; it is the result of hard work augmented by a creative human-centered discovery process, followed by iterative cycles of prototyping, testing, and refinement.

Steve Jobs: Get Rid of the Crappy Stuff

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.

Google's Philosophy – Ten Things

One of Google’s mantras is to never settle for the best. The perfect search engine, says Google co-founder Larry Page, would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want. Given the state of search technology today, that’s a far-reaching vision requiring research, development and innovation to realize. Google is committed to blazing that trail. Though acknowledged as the world’s leading search technology company, Google’s goal is to provide a much higher level of service to all those who seek information, whether they’re at a desk in Boston, driving through Bonn, or strolling in Bangkok.