Innovation and Design Thinking: Getting Your Program Started

Innovation and Design Thinking: The Role of Leadership
November 18, 2013
Anybody Can Dramatically Increase Their Number of Eureka Moments.
November 27, 2013

Innovation and Design Thinking: Getting Your Program Started

This week, we explored the questions related to how as well as key factors in creating an innovation culture.


“Nothing is stronger than habit.”

Ovid

 “The key to success is to make a habit of doing the things you fear.”
Vincent Van Gogh

This week, we explored the questions related to how as well as key factors in creating an innovation culture.  From the Pro’s comments:

  • Francis Milbower

“The first thing a company should do is have the full commitment from management”

  • Francisco Javier Zambonino Vázquez

“Since risk taking must be encouraged -innovation is a risky activity-, management must act as guidance an support. Without their initial full involvement and commitment the initiative is doom to failure. Clearly, the responsibility, commitment, and guidance fall on the management’s shoulders.  But what leader, in their right mind, would not publically support innovation in words and actions?  Words like synergy, collaboration, innovation, empowerment, proactive, paradigm shift, and our favorite thinking outside the box have become common vernacular in speeches, memos and annual reports from management for decades. So obviously we have to go beyond the words and look at the actions and behaviors.  If management is not sold on innovation, or at least not to the degree of the rank and file, there are other methods perhaps.”

  • Whittington (Chip) Vara

“In the event upper management is not yet sold on the benefits of innovation design thinking programs, I would suggest that guerrilla tactics be used to find and create early evangelists for innovation.  Find a few individuals within the development, marketing and/or finance department that will meet informally to understand how the concepts of innovation and design thinking could impact the company. Once you have these early advocates, have them apply the principles to one or more projects until they end up with a clear success that can then be revealed to upper management. Hopefully, management will then proceed to formalize an effort through a pilot program.”

The PROS also weighed in on the success factors to creating new products and services.

  • Ranya Badawi

“Looping through the Spiral Model, in addition to the factors mentioned, is a key success factor to creating a new product or service. The model was built to help you learn as you go. Understanding user needs, prototyping, collecting feedback in addition to other parts of the model are done incrementally and at numerous stages with a different focus each time you go around. For example:  You need to understand your user needs, you need to empathize, and at the same time, you want to offer a solution that is not already out on the market, or you want to offer a better solution; one that aligns with your company’s mission and fits with your company’s technical skills. Hence, understanding user needs alone is not enough; you need to take into consideration other factors; looping through the spiral will help you look at user needs through a different lens each time.

From our students, when asked about something that they can do immediately:

  • Kari Barnett

“One thing I can do immediately is observe and question more of what I see others struggling with or personal daily tasks. I would question if there is a better way of accomplishing the same goal and/or if there are other ways to accomplish that goal.”

Kari reminds us of both the importance in observation as well as the notion of never being completely satisfied.  There probably is a better way.

From our five seasoned practitioners:

  • Cindy: You need to get started, where is not that important.
  • Doug: Co-locate team and create a pilot program to test and generate early successes
  • Mike: Spiral Model was created to learn as you go
  • Sally: Put the time up front into the right strategy and processes
  • Elizabeth: Drive the daily/weekly and monthly tasks to change habits

Innovation is a risky business and all the practitioners agreed, independently, that this is one of the largest dilemmas facing industry.  Mitigating some of the risk, so that it doesn’t fall directly on the shoulders of individuals or specific teams by policy, processes and upper management’s behavior is critical is establishing and sustaining an innovative culture.