by: Idris Mootee


My friend Dr. Peter Coleman posted last week said he was interested in my thoughts on how traditional corporations are responding to the innovation agenda. He also asked if we are seeing design thinking etc. embedding itself within the mainstream corporations thus affecting their operating models and recruitment strategies. This is a great question. So here are my thoughts and there are more to come. I did plan to write on this one anyway.

We
all agreed that 'Innovation' is overused, it is now catchall buzzword
and in most cases, people are trying to say that "we're trying
something new" or "we're thinking out of the box." Although
this widespread spirit of experimentation is laudable, the meaning of
innovation has, unfortunately, become diluted and, in most cases,
meaningless, as a result. So how many corporations are truly responding
to the innovation agenda. We will have a meaningful discussion here
over the next few days.

What
is 'innnovation'? Advertising folks think it is about creativity or the
next brand extensions. Creative folks and IAs think it is all about the
next interface. Strategists think it is about a new economic model.
Board members immediately think large R&D budgets where team of
engineers and scientists work day and night to solve the next big
problems. It means different thing to different people. Over the last
couple of years I have been working to develop a more refreshing
approach to help companies think 'innovation', I finally come to the
conclusion that the best way to do this is to start thinking like a
'designer'. In the experience economy, our competitive advantage lies
in our knowledge of customer experiences. It includes insights into
emotions, interactions, social connections, meanings from objects and
interfaces which lie behind any experiences are crucial--what creates
meanings, memories and deep empathies?

'Design thinking' is the 'catalyst'
to create new ideas, or to recombine old ideas in new ways, or to allow
the crossovers of different concepts. Many organizations have most of
the right elements to be successful or create new value, they just may
not necessarily know how to make that ideas transform their thinking or
put them together just designers are trained to do. There's always some
tension between old management thinking and the new kind of management
needed for tomorrow's organizations and these are contextual. Go
back 50 years organizations were working to develop some organizational
principles that would bring predictability and stability. And as a
result we get improved productivity. The world
has changed since Ferderick Taylor invented scientific management,
b-schools were teaching out-dated ideas and a generation of managers
was trained with the wrong tools and ended up spending two years in
manager-producing (MBA) factories. One exception is Roger Martin (Dean
of Rotman School of Management) was first to introduce the idea of 'integrative-thinking' that
is long needed. Arthur Little was a pioneer and the first to see the
need for the convergence between business skills and engineer skills.
Roger Martin is another pioneer and was the first to see the need for
convergence of design skills and business skills.

Everybody
talks about the 'best practices' but we really should be talking about
'next practices'. 'design thinking' is the 'next practice'. Everybody
says that the organization needs to be customer-led. Yes, the customer
is the king. But we need to be innovation-driven as well as
customer-led. 'design thinking' is the glue to make the two connects
together.

(These
slides were taken from a 50 slides Idea Couture's deck that talks about
how our company incorporate design thinking in up-stream strategy
development. BTW, I took the picture below at a restaurant called
Alinea in Chicago which is a true experience itself. This is comparable
to the Jean-Paul Gautier bakery exhibition in Paris, I was there for
the grand opening party. I was truly impressed with Alinea and I will
let Scott Friedman write about it this weekend.)

Visionary managers innovate by operating in the intersection of business strategy + experience design + emerging technologies.
Innovation is at the core of organization's ability to create new value
at the intersection of business, design and technology. To do that we
have to have new insights, we have to do things differently and cannot
rely just on invention or pure technology R&D for success. That's
where 'design thinking' is needed and here I mean more than just deep
understand of user needs, I am talking about applying 'design thinking'
that create user value as well as economic value; conceptualizing and
prototyping opportunities early enough to create touchable and
tangibles of different strategic futures (which was traditionally done
on a spreadsheet). It is a process to understand strategy in a tangible
manner. It will prompt discussions and debates on all interconnected
elements and in a human-centered way. I need to stop here otherwise I
will write another 2000 words. More later.

Original Post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2007/11/design-thinki-1.html

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