Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation

When design principles are applied to strategy and innovation the success rate for innovation dramatically improves.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients.

Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer). A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused, and action oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination.

“Design is the action of bringing something new and desired into existence—a proactive stance that resolves or dissolves problematic situations by design. It is a compound of routine, adaptive and design expertise brought to bear on complex dynamic situations.” —Harold Nelson

What are the distinguishing characteristics of Design Thnking?

  • Finding simplicity in complexity
  • Beauty as well as functionality
  • Improving quality of experience
  • Creating elegant solutions
  • Serving the needs of people

Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation

When design principles are applied to strategy and innovation the success rate for innovation dramatically improves. Design thinking is at the core of effective strategy development and organizational change. Design can be applied to products, services, processes, physical locations… anything that needs to be optimized for human interaction. You can design the way you lead, manage, create and innovate.


This model synthesizes classic creative problem-solving modalities with principles and practices of art and design. 

Innovation is a discipline that can be managed.

You can approach the practice of innovation (creating new products, services, and customer experiences) with a set of practical and rigorous methods, tools, and frameworks.

A Framework for Creativity and Innovation

  1. Define the challenge: Develop a set of powerful questions to surface opportunities, and frame innovation.
  2. Gather data: Learn how to gather data through qualitative research such as observation and storytelling to augment traditional forms of data gathering.  Tools include Journey Mapping and Value chain analysis
  3. Reframe and clarify the challenge: Make sense of research by seeing patterns, themes, and larger relationships between the information. Challenge assumptions and illuminate opportunities latent within the organization.
  4. Artful reflection: Cultivate your intuition and develop  aesthetic ways of knowing. The elegant solution wins in the marketplace. Visualization: Develop visual thinking skills to de-code images, and communicate ideas visually. Visual  literacy transcends the limitations of language,  and activates our senses. Tools include Mind mapping, sketching and painting.
  5. Ideate: Learn six idea generation tools to foster shifts in perception,  break out of traditional mind-sets, and generate seed ideas for innovation, including SCAMPER, Metaphorical thinking, connecting the dots, and Edison’s invention techniques.
  6. Evaluate: Identify the criteria you need to evaluate ideas; learn the distinction between critiquing and criticizing an idea; give feedback that enhances creativity rather than crushes it.
  7. Prototyping: Create a visual tangible representation of your idea and present it to the group for feedback. Create a feasibility and an adoption checklist to get people onboard. Customer co-creation:  Exploring alternative futures  with your internal and external customers
  8. Assess: Gather feedback from prototype. Assess outcomes, and refine your project. Develop a set of feedback questions to get the information you need, i.e., does this add value to the customer?
  9. Implement: Create an action plan and test-drive your innovation
  10. Iterate: Assess results, modify and improve, using this framework.

Develop Design Thinking capabilities in your organization

While learning to be a good designer takes years, non-designers can learn to think like a designer and apply these skills to leadership and innovation. Hands-on innovation challenges will guide you through a design thinking process from start to finish.

  • Develop the 5 discovery skills that make up the  Innovator’s DNA and optimize your ability to innovate
  • Examine the four primary forces that shape innovation and 10 types of innovation you can leverage
  • How to connect more deeply with customers to uncover opportunities for innovation
  • Transform insights and data into actionable ideas
  • Explore the tool-sets and skill-sets used by designers: empathy for your customers, idea generation, critical thinking, aesthetic ways of knowing, problem-solving, rapid-prototyping and collaboration.
  • Develop a wide variety of concepts for  products, services, experiences, messages, channels, business models, or strategies.
  • Create and implement elegant solutions that create value for your customers, faster and more effectively.

Design Thinking for Innovation Strategy is offered via consulting, training, seminars and workshops.

contact us