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Innovation and managing duplicates


Once an innovation is implemented it is no longer innovative.—Jack Anderson, Innovation Capability Strategist, Chevron.

Where do you find ideas for new products? After all, it seems like everything's already been solved. Yet ideas are everywhere. What problems are you dealing with today that requires a solution?

Have you looked at your address book lately?

I have numbers and names I've moved from one computer to another and from one address book program to another; I've been using smart phones for years. I have contacts spread across three playbooks.

And so I've got all sorts of duplicates. Some have phone numbers, others only have emails. Some with home address, some with business. Some have the same numbers and addresses repeated multiple times within a card.

I could merge them all into one address book but that isn't the complete picture. It doesn't help me with duplicate information in one contact and it doesn't help me with multiple email playbooks. I have three playbooks that I use. One I share with my family, another is for personal contacts not relevant to my family members, and one is for my business contacts.

What I'd like is something that cleans up my addresses. It needs to merge multiple cards, remove duplicated information within a card, and allow me to move the card from one playbook to another. I'm imagining some elegant visual scanning of all address cards with "flip up" to move to my personal playbook (and thus delete from all other playbooks) and "flip down" for my business playbook; flip left and right to move between cards. This UI design would only work for three playbooks but that probably meets the needs of the majority. Or maybe some further research will reveal the need for a more complex pop-up to handle more than two or three playbooks.

And while we're at it, I used to use a great service that allowed people to manage their preferred contact information in my address book. For instance, when you change companies, you updated your information on the service, and the new information was synced to my phone. All magically.

There are many "solutions" that aren't nearly good enough. The address book utilities show a very simplistic understanding on the problem and an extremely narrow view of what's possible.

As we've seen with thermostats, NEST has made a business of "reinventing unloved home products to create simple, beautiful, thoughtful things." Product managers can too! Find those problems with a "least we could do" solution and invent something wonderful.

I'm waiting.

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