Last month we gave a quick overview of design thinking principles for innovation. It generated a lot of interest, so this month we’ve decided to go into a little more detail.
You’ll see there’s a theme of ‘AND’s’ driving our thinking. We choose to see them as ‘AND’s’ rather than ‘OR’s’ because we believe that making a virtue of tensions opens up new opportunities. What does that mean concretely?
1. Understanding Context: Zooming Out AND In!
Once the objective of a project has been properly framed, people’s natural tendency is to roll up their sleeves and ‘leap in!’ Design thinking would have us start off by leaping out: what does our existing ecosystem consist of? Who are the users of our products/services? Who are our competitors? How is the context evolving?
• Listen to Eric Berlow’s 3-minute talk about reducing complexity by zooming out, observing problems as systems and interactions, then zooming back in to solve the innovation problem.
2. Observation AND a future-focused insight program
Design thinking orthodoxy prizes user observation observation extremely highly, and rightly so – observation provides innovation with real meaning and utility. However, observation alone runs the real risk of providing the material to solve today’s problems rather than tomorrow’s. That’s why AV’s future-focused insight development program complements observation with cultural insight, expert input, trend analysis and leading-edge consumer interaction.
• Read more about Cheskin Added Value’s unique design thinking-led ethnography here.
3. Left AND right brain thinking
The balance of left-brain deductive thinking (logic and analysis, usually based on past evidence) and inductive thinking (based on directly observable facts), with right-brain abductive thinking (imagining what could be possible) creates solutions to ‘wicked problems’. These problems have no single right answer. Instead, they require a synthesis of all available information, along with the application of creativity, to identify the best possible solution from many.
• Read more about the type of wicked problems our clients rely on our balanced approach to solve.
4. Marketers AND unlikely partners
Design thinking is discipline-agnostic. Cross-functional teams, within the organisation and beyond, provide perspectives that balance and complement each other, driving disruptive innovation. It’s why we’re staffed the way we are.
• Read about how ‘cross-pollination’ between AV insight & innovation experts and fabric engineers created the disruptive innovation that led to Levi’s Engineered Jeans.
5. Prototyping AND concept testing
To concept-test or not to concept-test, that is the question! Or is it? Traditionally, at the front end of innovation: structural design agencies have provided prototyping expertise based on human observation, making ideas real early on, so that clients can decide between multiple product/service solutions; or research agencies have provided consumer insight via their reactions to abstract concepts through qualitative and – later – quantitative testing.
Added Value Innovation leverages both approaches: we exploit qualitative and quantitative consumer exploration & validation expertise, but we balance it with innovation prototypes. By making solutions real for consumers through models, theatrics, film, emotional stimulus, the insights gained are richer and more valuable. And it enables us to de-risk innovations by understanding their merits more deeply, prior to investment in any launch activities.
Written by Jonathan Hall, CEO Added Value France