Design-Based Innovation

Integrating Design for Success in Innovation


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The Design-Based Journey

Using your imagination to interpret the graphic image above, what do you see? I see a variety of colored lines heading in the same direction and then all changing direction. Each line looks a little tattered and scuffed, signaling a well-used path.

In a well-executed design-based innovation process, whether the project concerns a product, service, process redesign or a new way of working, the movement from problem analysis, through opportunity identification to solution implementation may involve multiple paths. At the starting point, these paths usually head in the same direction, as the problem requires. During the journey, however, I rarely see any path continuing in a straight line. Instead, paths will re-vector as learnings take place.

An emerging strategy has learnings that may appear as bumps in the path or changes in direction. Although the lines in the image above look fairly solid, they have scrapes and marks that represent the surprises experienced as a result of gained insights. These insights will lead to opportunities. And, one or more opportunities will eventually become a viable solution.

What path do you see in the above graphic? How does it compare to your innovation journey?

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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.