Unexpected uses in use-case scenarios and counter-intuitive interfaces in man-machine interfaces often lead to the premature death of new products.
It’s not unusual for system designers to release their products into the wild, only to have users play with a product in ways that were never intended, resulting in accidents. Sometimes consumers send thousands of the new product back to manufacturers simply because they couldn’t figure out how to use it.
Predicting the future is hard. It’s easy to see where things went wrong after they go wrong, but 20/20 hindsight is rarely a comfort.
Call it a “foresight gap.” The engineering community can be blindsided when it did not anticipate how the completed system will be used and what could happen once it’s installed in the real world.
The person who reminded me of this lesson — and summed it up succinctly — is Phil Koopman, CTO of Edge Case Research and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He makes his case simply by asking one question: #DidYouThinkOfThat?