Monday, 21 March 2011

Legal hacker

I hadn't heard the term hacking used in relation to repair and customisation of products until I was introduced to the work of an Irish woman called Jane.

Jane used the Bug Listing technique to identify broken, awkward and old things that she'd like to reclaim, rather than throw out to buy new replacements. She involved 2 material scientists, Ian and Steve, and devised a product called Sugru.

Like Steve Jobs, Jane also believes in empowering people through technology, but in her case by something small and low tech.

Photographers are one group who have tested Sugru in extreme conditions and found it worked well.

Scott Anthony & Clayton Christensen wrote extensively about the impact of disruptive innovation on companies that failed to predict change or adapt swiftly to it. This video presents a clear analogy.

They devised a 3 part process to help improve crystal ball gazing called 'Seeing What's Next.'

The first part focusses on the needs of 3 sets of customers: the overshot, undershot and nonconsuming customers.

Sugru resembles other products such as Blu Tak, Polyfilla and Mastic filler. Undershot customers find these solutions too weak, too rigid, insecure and uncomfortable for their purpose. Each bug that Overshot customers identify may have a specific fix, supplied by the manufacturer, such as a camera mount, but this can be unsatisfactory, tricky to use, too fancy or too expensive. Nonconsuming customers may be people who give up and throw out the equipment, because it doesn't work satisfactorily or seems irreparable.

Sugru enters the market through viral marketing by specific groups of Hackers. Time will tell whether it grabs the largest slice of the market from other 'fixers' and undermines sales for costly, niche adaptor products.

What it has done is focus on the purpose the customer has for a product, or 'the job the customer hires it to do', as Christensen says, no more and no less.

Someone has already creatively swiped the idea and made their own adaptation for fun objects and circuit board applications.

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