SXSW Interactive 2013

Disrupt By Design: Innovating Inside Big Commerce


The truth is, no one really knows what innovation means. Sure, everyone has a theory and 1000s of books are written every year on the topic, but what does it mean to wake up every day and attempt to innovate?

In this talk we'll take some time to look at what an innovative culture means to companies big and small. How does innovation occur and how can design and design thinking bring about a cultural change that upsets the status quo of traditional business decision making. We'll tell a few stories of our experience building a small innovation team inside one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world - eBay. We'll discuss the power of visualization, taking cues from the movie industry that can capitalize on successful innovation while celebrating failure when it occurs. We'll discuss how to feel comfortable with the ambiguity and chaos of an innovation project, how having the right team and perspectives are critical and why story telling is so important.

Related Media


  1. What does it mean to innovate day in, day out when there are so many constraints, meetings and people telling you "No"
  2. How design and design thinking can effect the culture of an organize and provide an alternative way of identifying and solving problems.
  3. How the movie industry's practice of pre-visualization is relevant to a discussion on innovation. How they encourage failing early and often to land the right idea before committing to the expense of production.
  4. How a 5 person design team can help change the culture of a company from the bottom up without asking permission.
  5. How to feel comfortable with the chaos and ambiguity of a of an innovation project and how surrounding yourself with the right people with the right skills is critical to success.


  • Ben Mitchell, Senior Interaction Designer, eBay
  • Michael Lenahan, Senior Design Manager, eBay


Ben Mitchell, Senior Interaction Designer, eBay

Meta Information:

  • Tags: innovation, storytelling
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Design and Development
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginning

Add Comments

comments powered by Disqus

SXSW reserves the right to restrict access to or availability of comments related to PanelPicker proposals that it considers objectionable.