The premise is simple; in study after study CEO’s agree, they all want their organizations to be more innovative, but few know how. Traditional models of innovation, such as relying on R&D for technology-based innovation or on marketing for incremental extensions-based innovation, most often fall short.
An emerging and more scalable model is design-led innovation; involving the user, contextual research, design thinking methods and design management best practice, coupled with service and experience design. Our interest is in exploring this more organic, scalable and sustainable model of innovation, and to show how it is helping influence corporate cultures of innovation.
We are launching this “Innovation Culture” blog because there is very little information available about the connection between innovation, design, design thinking and cultures of innovation.
This notion of building cultures of innovation is multifaceted. Clearly design and design thinking are at the significant forefront, but how can it be scaled? A few companies, for example Intuit and P&G, have successfully trained their senior executives about design thinking methods, and are influencing innovation culture by cascading this through the organization. Other companies, like Apple and BMW for example, just rely on top down mandates for great design and user experience. And while some companies like Target, Ralph Lauren and Gucci have used the traditional model of engaging with star designers, many companies like GE, Nike, Philips and Roca have very successfully expanded their innovation capabilities within their design centers. And while most companies rely on their internal design group coupled with outside design firms for proprietary design-driven innovation, a few companies like Google and Lego have successfully engaged in crowd-based innovation. All of these methods bring value to the organization, but sadly the vast majority of companies (I won’t mention names) still seem only able to copy the design and innovation of the industry leaders.
Knowing the positive influence yet limited capacity of the design function in design-led innovation, our first question is, how can this innovation practice be scaled? Is the answer more designers, more design leaders, more design agencies, or more internal training? And, how can design and innovation leaders help influence corporate culture? What are the best models and role of HR and OD in the development of innovation culture, and how can they engage with design leaders and design thinking methods? How can more employees collaborate and co-create effectively? And how to best engage with creative intelligence and building corporate creativity?
What is the role of design versus marketing versus R&D in developing new products and services? And how to benchmark design departments, and what is the balance between design leading and design doing? What is the profile of a design leader versus a general business leader? Who should tackle wicked problems and business innovation? Ultimately, how does innovation become an integral part of corporate culture?
We will explore these points and more in this blog, and present alternative scenarios and best practice examples. No doubt an interesting topic, no doubt challenging, and no doubt one that can add value to public and private organizations, both large and small, for years to come. Welcome to the conversation.