Sunday, February 23, 2014

Three steps to GoldieBlox's Success

GoldieBlox, a construction toy aimed at young girls that teaches the basic principles of engineering, has been in the news lately due to their Super Bowl ad sponsored by Intuit’s Small Business Big Game contest. I had the privilege of working for GoldieBlox almost two years ago. (In fact, the first post I wrote about it is here.) I’ve been delighted to watch its success, including Fast Company’s recent nod as one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2014. The award is well deserved, but founder Debbie Sterling’s innovative approach to creating GoldieBlox is a lot deeper than one amazing idea. Not surprising given Debbie’s degree from Stanford in Product Design, her process for creating GoldieBlox was intentionally designed. Debbie is the type of client every designer is lucky to work for because she understood the work that is required to make innovation happen.

Step One: Research
Before Debbie created the toy that now is GoldieBlox, she started by understanding her audience. Debbie read research and spoke with child development psychologists to understand the way that young girls want to play. She realized that many young girls enjoy story based play and start reading at an early age. It was from these initial conversations that she came up with the building set and story combination.

Step Two: Bring others into the process
Debbie reached out to broad swaths of people. She rejected the celebrated trope of a lone creator, understanding that innovation is made better by having ideas get beaten up and improved. I was always impressed by how willing she was to talk to anyone interested about her idea and through that she was able to build a strong team.

Step Three: Test and revise
Even after initial user research proved that young girls were responding positively to GoldieBlox, Debbie continued to ask the design team to identify ways to revise the toy to enhance the learning experience. She was not satisfied by merely proving her initial concept but pushed to make the best possible toy before launching the Kickstarter campaign, and has continued to improve the toys and expand the line. I look forward to seeing what comes next.

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