Design-Based Innovation

Integrating Design for Success in Innovation

Innovation is Design. Design is Innovation.

1 Comment

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.

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One thought on “Innovation is Design. Design is Innovation.

  1. By Uri Hess, Hess L&D Inc.

    I agree with Bill Knowles and would like to reinforce the importance of how Design Thinking concepts solve significant problems. In fact recognizing and understanding the problem is crucial.
    Adam Richardson, author of Innovation X, writes “Clearly innovation is not easy.
    The complexities of problems that businesses must solve have changed, we need tools to diagnose problems; innovation is not the problem, the problem is the problem.” In other words, companies that start their Design-Based Innovation process with a focus on the customer’s problem; have a greater chance of developing the right growth opportunity.

    What we have tended to see in the past, was a launched effort to solving perceived problem(s). We commonly experienced brainstorming sessions focused on generating desirable ideas that we believed could solve the problem. While brainstorming can indeed be part of an innovation process; relying too much on this tactic can prevent true recognition and understanding of the actual customer problem.

    The beauty of Design-Based Innovation is that we focus on measures to discover customer problems at the beginning of the overall process. Smart teams focus first on key and important steps such as; observing, networking, questioning and experimenting directly with the customer. The aim is to uncover, frustrations, aggravations, bottlenecks, (to mention a few), experienced by the customer. It is much easier to convert problems into opportunities and then insights which can be properly prototyped; than to bank on what we assume is the problem. Design-Based Innovation processing ensures that we have the problem well in hand and the capability to shape a solution to the problem in a unique way that makes a difference for the customer.

    It is well worth our time to learn more about Design-Based Innovation.

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