modular innovation

Quick-MI. Quick Heuristics for Modular Innovation.


Introducing… Quick-MI
Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree by which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards greater degrees of, Modular Innovation.

Today, Modular Innovation is a prevailing trend that can be described as products and platforms consisting of or facilitating…

  • Relationships (people-people, products-products, people-products)
  • Control of Experience (from creation to storage to interaction)
  • Ownership of Content (personal content from comments to friend lists and more)

Time & Space, UX & MI

Often the initial and continuing success of an online product is solitarily framed in terms of User eXperience (UX). To understand Modular Innovation’s role in a product’s online success is to understand how this trend of relationships (aka Modular Innovation) relates to User eXperience, and can, itself, be quantified for comparison and analysis against other products.

One way to think about the interplay between User eXperience (quantified via Quick-UX) and Modular Innovation (quantified via Quick-MI) is to draw, metaphorically, from physics, namely Space and Time. If User eXperience represents Space, and the variables and characteristics of a product’s UX represent it’s shape and form within that Space, then Modular Innovation aptly would be imputed Time. Like Time, you do not necessarily see or directly interact with the forces (quantifiable categories) of Modular Innovation, but Time is very important if you are, the product is, going to move forward, into the future.


Quick-MI is the simplification of the quantification of the Modular Innovations, the products and platforms, that make up the trend of Modular Innovation. The method I describe below is a great way to build a summary description with quantifiable and comparable metrics, representing the level of Modular Innovation present within a product.

More detailed and extensive heuristics are, of course, possible (I frequently evaluate along many more variables in my studies of Modular Innovation). Quick-MI allows you to dive into a product and quickly extract valuable, representative data points.

The Quick-MI evaluates the degree to which a product successfully addresses the following 5 categories:

Once quantified, the values associated with each of the categories are summed to represent the Modular Innovation Index of a given item (product, platform, etc.).

The characteristics evaluated within each category constitute a minimal representative subset that accurately evaluates the Modular Innovation Index while adhering to the goals of a method that are (1) quantifiable, (2) comparable, and (3) quick.

Some of the questions that are answered within the categories of the Quick-MI are…

Within Sharability

  • Can functionality and content of a product be shared?
  • With whom can I share?
  • How much can be shared?

Within Flexibility

  • What aspects, and to what extent, can I customize the Sharing, Portability, Interoperability, and Convenient parts of the product?
  • Do the methods and formats adhere to commonly accepted standards?

Within Interoperability

  • Can the product interact with external products (and vice versa)?
  • Are there legal restrictions placed on content or other interactions?
  • Does the available interoperability facilitate redundancy and stability?

Within Portability

  • What content, if any, do I own?
  • Can I take it with me?
  • Can I control my content without any UX penalties?

Within Convenience

  • From where, and at what times, can I access the product and the content?
  • With what degree of ease can I shift between venues and times?

Not Without UX

Modular Innovation should not be seen as an alternative, isolated, judge of the overall success or failure of a given product, but rather as a central, complementary, influential part of the equation. Together, MI and UX shape the course of evolution and the eventual success or failure of a product.

Modular Innovation is Relationships

The more relationships, the stronger the relationships, in turn, the stronger and broader can be a product’s acceptance, support, and success. These relationships comprise Modular Innovation. They are the trend. They exist within the products that are themselves Modular Innovations, albeit to varying degrees, as measured via Quick-MI. They are the characteristic elements (described, at a high-level by the Quick-MI categories) that propel a product forward (or a lack thereof, stalls or otherwise hinders its progress).

The role and presence of relationships within and between people, products and platforms are ever increasing in importance and influence. They represent the next substantial evolution of the internet, beyond simply the data, but, now, to all the spaces in between. They can be seen in the sub-trends, or minor trends, with respect to Modular Innovation as a whole, like those of semantic web and data portability.

These relationships can be quantified, analyzed, built and expanded upon. Once quantified, products are better understood, and clearer courses are able to be set for improvement and solidification of the elements within products directly relevant to Modular Innovation, directly (yet, not exclusively) relevant to sustained success. And the current methods of Quick-MI, itself evolving and adapting, can be used in observing, from industry trend to individual product, the impact and the role of Modular Innovation on products and related trends.

Enjoy, Discuss & Share!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

PS Try it out, tweak it, learn more about Modular Innovation and share you experiences.

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