By having an area where we can incubate and build, and not necessarily always worry about what a failure it is, we understand that we can learn from it. It really allows us to amplify and create new seedlings, off which we can build more crops.
Innovation Means Building a Safe Space for Failure
You can’t get to the brilliant ideas without first building on the awful ideas. In the Nike Kitchen, the shoe company’s innovation lab responsible for the genre-busting Nike Flyknit (as seen in the 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Cup), the company focuses on building a safe space for failure to help push the envelope and develop completely new products. By having an area where we can incubate and build, and not worry about failure. We understand that we can learn from it. It allows us to amplify and create new seedlings, from which we can build more crops.
But the most important part of innovating is including your user in the entire process. For us, having that single focus, which is our athlete, and listening to and observing them from the beginning of a project all the way through to the end is vital.
About Ben Shaffer
Benjamin Shaffer is a designer/innovator who lives and works in Portland. As the designer and creative lead of Nike Flyknit he orchestrated the growth of a paradigm shift in footwear manufacturing that was introduced in the 2012 Olympics with some of the world’s fastest athletes. Then as a Studio Director, his passion for new materials and manufacturing processes and his keen eye for aesthetic relevance positioned him nicely at the incubation of Nike’s future product at the Innovation Kitchen. He is now a designer at Apple.
A journey that began 12 years ago with Nike. Shaffer has designed products from a variety of categories ranging from yoga, dance, and running, as well as contributing to the conceptualization of Nike Plus. After six years, he joined the Innovation Kitchen as the Innovation Lead assisting the Women’s Training team with their Diamond Flex technologies, Free, and performance calibration. From there he became the Innovation Lead of Sportswear where he was charged with designing, developing, and introducing technologies such as Nike’s Hyperfuse into Sportswear.