Stumbled upon: Design for Innovation (Management) Success

James Todhunter collects critical success factors of corporate innovation management, i.e. the things that make a difference, Peter-Anthony Glick added another one in the comments:

– Executive Leadership
– Skill Development
– Innovation Infrastructure
– Network for Innovation Mentoring & Facilitation
– Internal Promotion
– Recognition & Reward for innovation

Nice list but let me add another perspective on corporate innovation management: An apt innovation infrastructure – organizational structures (like processes), competencies and strategies too – needs to be designed. So when frog design strategy director Ravi Chatpar outlines the benefits of an iterative design process, in which design and business strategy impact one another directly, we should listen too. Innovation management can profit from including “designers” early on in the strategic planning process, i.e. have them iterate through various prototypes as a way of refining strategic thinking:

[…] designers should be brought into the innovation process at the very earliest stages. Too many companies still make the mistake of keeping business strategy and design activities separate. From concept through development, designers should function in parallel with corporate decision makers.

See his short article in Harvard Business Review in September 2007 (“Innovate Faster by Melding Design and Strategy”).

In this theme I also liked Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s take on the possible contributions design can bring to innovation (“Creativity, Innovation and Design”), explained via the example of a newly formed design-business-think-tank:

[…] bring together the disciplines of design, engineering, technology and business to address jointly the challenges of innovation in an increasingly global, competitive economy. Design-London aims to “create an innovation triangle between design (represented by the Royal College of Art), engineering and technology (represented by the Imperial College Faculty of Engineering), and business and management (represented by Imperial’s Tanaka Business School).”Two sides of this triangle are familiar territory. […] The third leg of this triangle is very intriguing – namely the inclusion of Design and the Royal College of Arts as a full partner in Design-London. What are creative disciplines – and a college of arts, for heaven’s sake – doing side-by-side with the hard, analytical disciplines that are charged with pushing the economy into the future – engineering and management, technology and business? You are mixing the people who run companies and build things with the creative types?

But the more I thought about it, the more I started appreciating the sheer brilliance of this move. After all, we are talking about innovation.

[…] Clearly, design and the creative arts in general have long played a big role in initiatives aimed at fostering innovation

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