Practicing Continuous Innovation, IDEO Style

Tim Brown, the CEO of design firm IDEO, has a new book called “Change By Design.” It talks about how large organizations can infuse “design thinking” into the company’s DNA. Who can practice design thinking? Everyone. According to Brown

The design thinkers I have described here are not minimalist, esoteric members of an elite priesthood, and they do not wear black turtlenecks. They are creative innovators who can bridge the chasm between thinking and doing because they are passionately committed to the goal of a better life and a better world around them.

One of the examples that Brown uses is Kaiser Permanente. Guided by IDEO’s support, a Kaiser team redesign the nursing staff shift change at hospitals. The internal group followed a design process, including videotaping, brainstorming, role playing, and prototyping. The redesigned shift change process enabled nurses to visit with patients twice as fast and raised satisfaction rates for both nurses and patients.

My take: I agree with Brown’s focus on infusing the elements of design into an organization’s DNA. One of the 6 New Management Imperatives that I’ve defined is: Turn innovation into a continuous process. Innovation shouldn’t be left to a handful of people or focus only on big-bang events.

There’s a strong overlap with these concepts and customer experience as well. A correctly implemented Voice Of The Customer program represents a form of continuous “Design Thinking.”

The bottom line: Either innovate continuously or fall behind consistently.

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I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

2 thoughts on “Practicing Continuous Innovation, IDEO Style”

  1. Bruce,
    You and Tim have tapped an important vein here. I have been seen in a black turtleneck, nonetheless I have found “design thinking” or continuous innovation you describe as key factors to big improvements to customer experiences and performance.

    I would add two more key ingredients, and wonder if you agree: 1) Clearly define the essential need (problem or desire) your product, brand or organization is out to solve. 2) Define an ideal, or target customer or patient experience. These 2 things combine to give you kind of “end in mind” or litmus test against which design thinking ideas and actions can be evaluated. Your thoughts?
    LCI

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