Nordstrom’s Innovation Lab – Sunglasses iPad app case study

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.

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