Above: Hulme on the rooftop of Google’s London offices (photo by Jon Enoch)
What the design-thinking approach at IDEO taught me is that perfection is the enemy of progress. Great entrepreneurs realize that any business is a series of unanswered questions, and they prioritize answering them.
With hindsight everything seems to follow an ordered path, but in truth, I didn’t have a master plan. I’ve done things because I believed they would make me smarter and because I was passionate about them, whether that’s physics or running a car company or IDEO or GV.
The hypothesis I had was that you can use digital tools to take the friction out of bringing together a diverse set of people to co-create and iterate. That became OpenIDEO. We now have a couple hundred thousand people collaborating online for the social good.
Most businesses start with the executives designing something for themselves, but all businesses have to have empathy for the customer. Empathy is the best leading indicator of success for a business.
When I consider the startups that pitch to GV, I look for the ones that have true empathy for their customers, because I think they’ll listen and iterate better. They’ll prototype, they’ll test things with those customers, and they’ll learn faster than the competition.
I’m really digging into FinTech at the moment. I pick a topic each year and do a deep dive. Otherwise you’re constantly reacting to a fire hose of information, and you don’t get to look into any specific market more than superficially.
There’s a tension between the way product designers want people to behave and the way that people actually behave. Users will usually take the shortcut to whatever solution they want. The best entrepreneurs recognize the way their product’s users want to behave and empower it.
Class of MBA 2007, Section H