Design-Based Innovation

Integrating Design for Success in Innovation


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An Airline Without Pain Points

by Guest Contributor, Uri Hess, Hess L&D Inc.

Even your typical gold frequent flyers will tell you about their difficulties with airports and airlines. These “pain points” can begin the moment you enter the airport, and can continue throughout your flight all the way to your destination.

Companies that have subscribed to Design Thinking approaches aim at the removal of pain points as part of a continual innovation process. Design-Based Innovation incorporates the search for customer problems as a means of stimulating potential for new breakthroughs.

Design-Based Innovation includes the early steps of observing, questioning and networking, followed by divergent and convergent thinking exercises that can lead to new insights. Airports make for interesting settings to practice the first skill of observing customer behaviours because pain points are quite evident and easily recognized there.

One way of developing an understanding of customer pain points is to appreciate the opposite and recognize airlines that have seemingly found ways of removing them. Rewarded as one of today’s leading airlines, Air New Zealand demonstrates unique approaches that eliminate typical customer pain points where they commonly occur with other airlines.

Having recently experienced Air New Zealand on several flights, I personally observed these pain-free check-in and take-off procedures:

  • Air New Zealand’s check-in kiosks are heavily staffed to assist passengers with a quick and efficient starting point.
  • Lines to check luggage and obtain boarding passes are few or non-existent (the result of an efficient kiosk process). This can eliminate the typical pre-check-in and printing of boarding passes before arriving at the airport — another pain point removed.
  • Gate agents use a systematic method of maintaining a clear gate area with a simple, row-by-row boarding procedure that actually works, likely because it begins much earlier than on most other airlines. The result is a calm, smooth boarding experience.
  • On board, Air New Zealand grabs your attention with a humorous, yet serious, safety video. It features the popular New Zealand actor, Bear Gryllis, known for his outdoor survivor TV programs. The outcome is clearly greater attention of passengers to the importance of safety.
  • Air New Zealand even offers an “Economy Skycouch” for relaxing during long hauls. Economy Skycouch consists of a row of three economy seats that convert into a couch-like space, allowing you to stretch out and relax.

By providing something different that has a positive impact, Air New Zealand defines innovation. And, Design-Based Innovation provides the processes that lead to this type of outcome.

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Innovation Is Easier Said Than Done

by Guest Contributor, Uri Hess, Hess L&D Inc.

Have you ever noticed how companies describe themselves as innovative? Or, refer to the fact that innovation is one of the core values of their strategic agenda? The intent is good, but it may simply be in vogue to include the word innovation as jargon. Without a capability strategy, how can we be expected to actually activate innovation?

Experience proves that to initiate a true culture of innovation, the company, organization or team must dedicate itself to a strategy which allows them to live innovation. This is a willingness to define and discover innovation capability development, and to agree on process which can impact the way we think and work to be more innovative. This does not suggest a heavy-duty training program which must become part of a long-term framework for the entire population of the company. It does not suggest that the learning and development needs must be part of a detailed long-term strategic plan. Quite the contrary, innovation capability development is an ongoing experience.

The word itself has almost become a cliché. Therefore, innovation capability development can be triggered by simply asking a group or team to define innovation. To quote Scott Anthony, author and managing partner of Innosight, the consulting firm founded by Clayton Christensen, “Innovation: something different that has impact” is both more important and more accessible than ever before. Consensus around the definition creates an initial understanding of the ‘WHAT’ of innovation. This, in turn, creates the necessary curiosity to learn about the ‘HOWs’ of innovation.

To maintain the innovation capability development as an experience, there is an ongoing expectation to practice what we preach as part of a training process. It is usually a segmented process which incorporates interesting guidelines and techniques that guide us from the discovery of a difficult problem through to the new ideas, and then, through to implementation. It’s an experience because of the immediate application options that are needed to activate innovation progressively. It’s a process that recognizes several aspects of innovation, such as design thinking, disruptive innovation, prototyping, ideation and other innovation programs as part and parcel of a complete process. With a capability strategy in-hand, you will have the opportunity to bring innovation to life.


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Ugly Is Not Profitable

RyanJacobyThe April 22 -23 Center for Creative Economy Triad Design Leadershop addressed “Ugly is not Profitable.” Ryan Jacoby delivered an energetic, humorous and creative keynote talk on Tuesday evening. He addressed the process of Design-Based Innovation focusing on both the overall model flow and important elements to include under each of the model segments.

The large audience (100 plus) had many questions and comments that connected Ryan’s content to the challenges they face in their businesses.

Wednesday’s all-day workshop allowed the 30 participants the chance to put Ryan’s content into practice by addressing identified problem statements. This energetic small team experience included learning to focus on the customer’s job to be done, establishing a diverse team, using a divergent and convergent thinking process for both problem clarification and opportunity identification and experiencing the value of prototyping early and often.

Being one of the facilitators, I witnessed the progress and enthusiasm of the teams and realized how much an open and creative group can absorb in a true hands-on learning workshop.

by Bill Knowles


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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.