Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation

"Every future business leader needs to be a good design thinker"

- Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation, page 60

In an increasingly complex world with multiple disruptive market forces – technological, regulatory, competitive – business as usual is not enough. Organizations in nearly any industry today are facing challenges to innovation and competitive advantage. In this environment, the inability to adapt and break out of the status quo will lock companies out of successful growth. Idris Mootee, author of Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Didn’t Teach You in Business or Design School, says, “It is the habits of mind and strategy that often prevent today’s dominant firms from reinvention.” This book makes the case for design thinking as a core growth engine for innovation and a practice to redefine solutions to the biggest challenges leaders face today. Mootee provides a design thinking approach to solve challenges in growth, predictability, change, relevance, extreme competition, standardization, creative culture, strategy, and organization.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Innovative Solutions Are Created from Both Art and Science

"Design thinking is the search for the magical balance between business and art; structure and chaos; intuition and logic; concept and execution; playfulness and formality; and control and empowerment."
- Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation, page 33

Design thinking is a framework for a human-centered approach to strategic innovation and a new management paradigm for value creation in a world of radical change. This practice is both an art and science that focuses on forms, relationships, behaviors, real human interaction and emotion to approach problem solving in a way that results in creative solutions. Creative solutions are absolutely necessary to develop organizations and products that are relevant and valuable in a paradigm shift rapidly accelerated by technology innovation. With an action-oriented and forward looking approach, design thinking can also influence culture and empathy within an organization. This collective engagement and momentum toward growth can also have an impact in setting apart the winners from the laggards in any business industry.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Business Today is About Disruption and Responding to Change

"Companies find themselves in a crisis because they can’t respond to change, even if they recognize the need for transformation. This is the age of extreme competition and every competitive advantage has been reduced to comparative advantage."
- Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation, page 56

Responding to change means responding to the forces creating market disruption and responding to customers’ evolving needs. Mootee says significant loss of shareholder value in many companies over the last ten years has been onset by “mismanagement, poor strategic decision making, and inability to react to disruptive innovation or extreme competition.” The design thinking solution to extreme competition is to differentiate in a relevant way through experience design – creating meaningful context and interaction between customers and products, services, systems, and spaces. Purposeful experience design communicates and reinforces a brand’s value proposition by relating functional, social, cultural, and personal relevancy to customers. For example, creating an online property for customers that enhances learning and mastery in a brand relevant topic space builds a bridge between affinity triggers that are rational and emotional.

Here is one way to get started with experience design: Determine a starting point for creating experience with customers – an experience should have a clear beginning and end. It can be the scope of interaction in a physical store, marketing, or beyond. Think of where and why you engage with customers.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Effective Response to Change isn’t Reactionary. It Anticipates.

"A plan is needed – not just as a reaction to change, but also in anticipation of it."
- Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation, page 111

Sense making is an agile and adaptive practice in design thinking that employs techniques to identify, collect, question, and interpret the meaning of increasingly complex situations. This enables forward thinking toward opportunities for growth and in anticipation of change. This practice favors qualitative customer, culture, and people-centered inquiry. It looks toward possibility thinking rather than data and measurement of what has already been done. Through sense making, organizations can uncover internal structure or process issues, challenge assumptions and conditions at their cause, and recognize patterns and outliers in markets that signal change prior to emerging as a sizable shift. This predictive signal identifying practice gives organizations a better sense of timing to redesign and launch new products—a critical factor in innovation.

To get started sense making, collect the real data. In order to understand the holistic experience with your company, consider a robust set of inputs—not just business performance data but also deep customer insights—social media conversational platforms, competitive analysis. Think soft and hard sensors.

Idris Mootee’s Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation is an actionable resource for leaders of organizations in uncertain markets, facing new and emerging challenges. This is an accessible primer for new design thinking practitioners while providing novel insight for the experienced set. Mootee ends his work in a call for a new value system and a new paradigm in business, suggesting this shift has the promising potential not only to transform organizations but capitalism itself. That design thinking can “unleash our imagination of a better future.”

Will you adopt and evangelize design thinking in your organization? What are the challenges you’re facing and how can you apply innovative solutions?

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Anastasia Crosson

ABOUT Anastasia Crosson

Anastasia Crosson is a creative and strategist. A passion for storytelling, branding, and design inspires her work with media and tech companies in the Silicon Valley...
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