B-Week Innovation Predictions 2008 – Some Thoughts

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by: Idris Mootee

I just finished reading Business Week’ s latest "Innovation Predictions 2008" and there are 3 things that I am interested most since they resonate with what my company is doing and my personal interest. Let’s look at those three:

1/ Innovation Consolidation. B-Week Excerpt: "One of the big, established consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain or BCG makes a pass at one of the small design-turned-innovation consultancies-Jump, Continuum, IDEO, or ZIBA-to bolster its innovation practice."

My View: I think design thinking is providing a set of new tools for business strategists but they are still primarily two business and disciplines. For my company, we try hard to find people who can use both the left brain and the right brain whether they are trained as designers or business managers. Not only that, we are developing new tools and processes that make the two disciplines work together. IDEO successfully bridged the silos between engineers and product designers; we’re doing the same for designers and business strategists. I don’t think the ideas will work at all if Bain or McKinsey buy one of those small design consultancies. Having worked in those places I can tell you the culture is the big barrier that will stop this from happening. It is naïve to think that if BCG acquiring a ZIBA and you’ll have an innovation consultantcy. That’s not the case.

2/ B-School Goes D-School. B-Week Excerpt: "Business administration focuses on making existing business processes and products better and more efficient. Business design focuses on creating new options for new forms of enterprise."

My View: Design is still largely being seen as aesthetics driven, sort of making things pretty or easy to use, and this is far too narrow. Design thinking, when combined with some of the best business forecast and planning tools can be very powerful helping organizations navigate in this chaotic business environment. We have seen very little cross-over people who can do both, or at least comfortable with other while super proficient with one. We are talking about model-makers for the future of organizations, hmm that sounds like something new. It is about applying design thinking to support non-design business objectives. That’s what I like about what my company is doing.

3/ Creative Growth. B-Week Excerpt: "As the traditional, cost-cutting workout fails, the private equity firm brings in innovation consultants to shape a growth strategy."

My View: I am not sure about this. I think experience innovation is no question the next big thing, but private equity firms are not in the business of innovation (capital innovation you can call it). They are in the business of leveraging capital base and capturing synergistic values by combining  or spinning off organizations. Ideas such as online infusion, service design, service amplification are not what they truly appreciate. Let’s put it this way, "customer empahty" is not in their vocabulary.

Original Post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2008/01/b-week-innovati.html