Design Thinking and Innovation

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Having spent more than twenty years (as an internal or external consultant) addressing a variety of business problems for both clients and employers, I do know a thing or two about “Design Thinking”. In fact, my consulting outfit – ThinkShop.in – regularly works with clients across industries on a range of business/technology/marketing solutions, including organizing custom boot camps on topics that include Digital Strategy, Design Thinking and Customer Engagement.

But even Teachers can become Students, and there is no limit to the learning one can assimilate. So, when the opportunity arose a few months ago, to attend a workshop on the subject of ‘Design Thinking‘, I looked up the profile of the coach, and realized this was an opportunity not to be missed!

The workshop was being conducted by Prof. Srikant M. Datar – the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Business Administration, Faculty Chair of the Harvard Innovation Lab, HBS One Harvard Faculty Fellow, and Senior Associate Dean for University Affairs at Harvard Business School. A Chartered Accountant by training and a gold medalist from IIM (A), Prof. Datar holds two masters degrees and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and brings decades of experience working with leading Fortune 500 companies as a consultant.

 

Though no single post can capture the depth of this subject, if you are just starting off on your journey, here are some key learnings you may find useful:

 

Innovation can be a breakthrough or even incremental change at a product, process or business-model level

 

Innovation ultimately depends on the quality of observation and insight, how we frame the problem, and quality & quantity of ideation

 

‘Breaking Fixedness’ – our fixed ways of thinking that help us in our day to day life, our hard-wiring – is the key to Innovation

 

The risks of not innovating are even greater than the risks involved in innovating

 

Most of us spend most of our lives in the “operational” world defined by rules, routines and rationality, while Design Thinking requires skillsets that include connection making, curiosity and experimentation

 

‘Status Quo Bias’ is a real thing that adversely impacts the pursuit of Innovation in any field

 

Techniques like multiplication, division, rapid prototyping, etc. can be used to overcome prevalent cognitive biases, when it comes to designing a relevant solution

 

Of course, if you are serious about building an Innovation practice, you will need to do a whole lot more, including equipping your team members with the skills they will need to make a dent.

‘Design Thinking’ matters, and investments (of time and money) made in building a strong foundation will surely reap rich rewards for your organization, when it starts impacting the Customer Experience positively. As an added bonus, you will find that it also ingrains in you a new, refreshing way to look at the world.

Did I mention, ThinkShop can help?!

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