What is Innovation... Really?
The simplest definition of innovation is “the introduction of something new.” This could be a new idea, method, product, etc. Innovation is usually associated with invention. We think of people like Thomas Edison and Leonardo Da Vinci and companies like Apple.
Innovation is usually associated with things that improve our lives. Therefore, innovation, in a business context, is the intersection of what is desirable by your customers, viable for your business and technologically feasible.
Innovation is powered by a thorough understanding of what people want and need in their lives. Before you can innovate, you must gain understanding, form insights, run experiments, learn, iterate and invent… and there is a process for that.
Tim Brown, author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, states that “…innovation is powered by a thorough understanding, through direct observation, of what people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about the way particular products are made, packaged, marketed, sold, and supported.”
Tim goes on and explains that “Design thinking is… a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
“Genius” as Thomas Edison has told us, “is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas Edison is an archetypal “Design Thinker.” He knew that through experimentation – iterative design – problems can be solved, and innovation takes place.
For innovative companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks, Design Thinking is a strategic role done as early as possible in determining developing and delivering life changing solutions. Many companies still get this wrong because they consider design late in the process for mere visual appeal or ease of use and are completely missing the boat on innovation.
Design Thinking ROI
From A Forrester Total Economic Impact Study of Design Thinking
Organizations slashed the time required for initial design and alignment by 75%. The model demonstrates cost savings of $196K per minor project and $872K per major project.
Project teams leveraged better designs and user understanding to reduce development and testing time by at 33%. This equates to cost savings of $223K per minor project and $1.1M per major project.
Design Thinking practices helped projects cut design defects in half. Projects were more successful in meeting user needs, thereby reducing design defects and subsequent rework to save $77K per minor project and $153K per major project.
Faster time-to-market enabled increased profits from net-new customers and the higher present value of expected profits. Faster time-to-market increased profits by $182K per minor project and $1.1M per major project.