Design-Based Innovation

Integrating Design for Success in Innovation


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What is the TRUE Problem?

In Design-Based Innovation the upfront focus on the problem is extremely important. An estimated 90% of the time the pursuit of a solution is not directed at the true issue.

In business we are so quick to start thinking “solution” and to take actions that implement the way forward to solving the stated issue. From a Design-Based Innovation approach the initial activity should always be to execute a divergent/convergent thinking process around the first statement of the problem. The solution focus is still way down the road.

A diverse group, working together to hear each other’s comments when possible, should expand the problem statement in as many ways imaginable. Once the first view of the issue has many restatements and many varied associations, it is then time to look for patterns and converge the list to one or two high impact root causes. This revised view of the original problem statement would be the true issue to engage.

The team will then have the ability to create insights and eventually opportunities that may lead to a solution of the true problem.


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Innovation is Design. Design is Innovation.

by Bill Knowles

The complexities of moving innovation from an espoused value in a company to being part of normal operating procedures can be overwhelming. Combining concepts of design thinking with a company’s support of innovation offers individuals and teams greater opportunities for success in shaping solutions to significant problems. The powerful vocabulary, tools and processes companies use to pursue innovation can eventually lead to new outcomes, especially in the presence of strong cultural support.

It is my opinion, however, that blending a design thinking approach with innovation efforts can ensure faster and more targeted results. Over many years of delivering separate workshops on innovation and on design thinking, I have learned that these concepts should not be considered individually, but in a single, unified approach. Innovation requires design thinking and design thinking implies innovation.

The creation of an executable model connecting design and innovation allows us to own a process to not only step through the necessary fields, but to lead us to solutions more quickly and more soundly. It guides us to our customer’s real needs, promotes risk taking, rewards us for using failures to re-vector, asks us What can be?, focuses us on the exact problem, has us quickly prototyping multiple times and shapes a successful solution to a previously unaddressed significant problem.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.