The Design of Innovation

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How to lead the design, creation and adoption of human-centered operating models built to deliver innovation.


Purpose – Why are we doing this?

Any journey starts with a destination, and innovation is no different.  Sometimes innovators know where they are going but the destination is fuzzy, and the “why” is not clear especially if the idea will disrupt the current business status quo.  Inceodia leads clients through a market and customer needs discovery process that informs creation of new business strategies and a vision for the future that is clearly tied to delivering unique customer value.

Growth as a visionary agenda

The visionary agenda is more than just a vision statement; it is a decision framework for the design of the business’ operating model that will deliver an engaging and compelling customer experience centered on core human needs.  For example, when considering new digital platforms for delivering services, the visionary agenda crafts a new ecosystem for the digital service and compares the emotional response of customers to the desired experience.  Each decision point in the operating model, whether it is what we make, how we sell or the way we deliver, is carefully weighed against the envisioned experience.

Process – How will we do this?

The next step in planning a journey is to create a roadmap to our destination.  The path to successful implementation of innovative ideas is typically circuitous, involving detours and even pivots in the destination itself.  Inceodia helps clients build lean processes that are designed to continuously delight customers and iteratively improve the experience.

Process as iterative improvement

Process may seem like the anathema of innovation but flexible processes are key to enabling new ideas to stick.  For example, in service design, processes provide the rules of engagement with customers and ensure the focus of improvement is on the experience, not the people delivering the experience.  This is a subtle shift with a big impact as employees start thinking, “how can we do better” rather than “what am I doing wrong”.

People – Who will do this?

People – employees, partners, suppliers – are the cornerstone of an operating model built to deliver innovation.  Much of today’s corporate cultural norms unintentionally stifle innovation in their people by prescriptively specifying how things get done rather than enabling ideas to flow toward a common vision.  Customer needs are the honing mechanism for innovation, relentlessly driving towards a unique experience yet allowing the ideas for how to get there the flexibility to evolve and grow.  Inceodia uses a cultural change model to develop motivations, knowledge and tools from the outside in that ensure the organization stays out of the way of implementation of the innovative ideas that give it a competitive edge.

People as makers of competitive advantage

Empowering people to deliver an experience that delights your customers is the secret to differentiation.  For an easy-to-use and delightful customer experience to emerge – one that is as unique as the people who deliver it – the corporate culture must inspire its people to learn and experiment: What makes customers happy?  Why are they frustrated?  What do they love about us?  About our competitor?  The innovation culture takes this one step further and empowers its people to do something about what they’ve learned.

Product – What are we doing?

If Purpose, Process and People are the roadmap to innovation, Product is the road and the vehicle that takes us there.  Designing a product is no longer an endeavor that yields a widget after years of R&D work. Instead, the product starts as something minimally viable and an experience emerges through iteration of all the aspects involved in delivering the solution.  Inceodia uses empathy and observation to discover customer needs, and engages customers to help create and test prototypes.  This both allows duds to be rejected early and enables powerful solutions to real customer problems to emerge.

Product built to evolve

While human-centered design will create an engaging experience that is easy to use and compelling, the world is changing too fast to stop there.  Product design must be future proof, extensible to new technology, social and economic needs.  Customer discovery to uncover unmet needs will need to continue, allowing the product to evolve in ways the original design never intended.

Platform – What are we doing that is bigger than us?

Platform will keep our roadmap from remaining a country road to a single destination.  This not only enables other innovators – customers, partners, etc. – to contribute to the experience but also allows our solution to become part of something bigger.  Inceodia leads brainstorming and creation of an ecosystem for the business, designing engagement models and exploring interaction with other players.  The key is to uncover win-win connections between different players in the ecosystem that can increase the value of our innovation to customers and the market.

Platform the world builds upon

Platform used to be about collecting common attributes of a company’s product portfolio in one core set of technologies and operations.  This enabled economies of scale within the business but did not leverage the growth potential of the larger ecosystem.  Creating a platform that raises the bar for our industry and enables entry of new innovative players will increase our value by creating a customer experience that far exceeds something we could do ourselves.