Design Thinking For Innovation

Design Thinking | 01th June 2017
My driver to start studying and using Design Thinking came from a real business situation. As Head of Innovation and Intelligence of Heineken Portugal, aka Central de Cervejas, we were the first operating company from the Heineken group of companies to implement the global innovation process.
As soon as I shared the good news with the group, I realized that we needed to go further and feed this process, mainly the Innovation Funnel, with fresh, relevant ideas, to deliver on the Innovation Rate the company was aiming for.
Forward into the future, I come to notice that this is a common problem for big, medium and small companies, hence I developed an end-to-end program we use at UBERBRANDS called INNOVaction.  This program aims to support all types of companies, in all types of Industries, both in B2B and B2C markets, in relevant, sustainable, and profitable innovation.

The question you may be asking is: Why Design Thinking? The reason comes as a quote from Tim Brown’s book, where he defines what Design Thinking aims to:
“Matching people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and viable as a business strategy”
Business Strategy
Design Thinking Framework

To be successful in any quest for relevant innovation quest, you need to have a human-centred approach to identify consumer needs, without forgetting the technology that will enable addressing them, and very importantly, make money in the process. After some thinking and research, I realised that the real value laid in identifying the unarticulated needs that no other product or service was catering for.
To do that, I would need to support the overall process with actionable insights (Intelligence) on both the Consumer, Technology and Business. As such, I developed a Trend Mapping process that allows us to visualize the White Spaces, Blue Oceans, and Innovation Hotspots which in turn support both Incremental or Game-Changing Innovation.
Identifying the opportunity is not enough, though. You need to generate the ideas that address those unaddressed, unarticulated needs.  To help the ideation process, I designed a gamification process, where those trends are played against a backdrop of business restrictions to guarantee the adherence to the competitive reality a company is facing.
As you could have foreseen, the process itself is based on the Fuzzy Front End logic and inspired by the Design Thinking "process":

Gamification process

Gamification process based on Fuzzy Front End Logic and inspired by Design Thinking “process”

To unlock creativity, I used some creative problem-solving techniques along the way, resulting in a Design Thinking process "on steroids". These problem-solving techniques came from various sources, as one of the key objectives was to make possible to innovate both in Product/Service, but also in Processes, as well as in Business Models. In a nutshell, Total Innovation. These days at UBERBRANDS, we fine-tuned this program and use a SaaS platform to run INNOVaction.

Once again, the Design Thinking mindset and UX were not forgotten. Since capturing the ideas and the thought process that lays behind ideas is critical, this platform allows for less distraction with Powerpoint, or the Post-it Notes® and hardcopies of the key templates, and focus the participants in the ideation process itself.
As a side benefit, the participants will have a much better looking “document” so they can explain their idea better. Even prototyping can be included by uploading the pictures or sketches of the prototypes, or even the models resulting from Lego Serious Play® sessions which we sometimes use.
Ideas and Innovation

Another highly relevant benefit is to turn the process as agile as possible, being able to customize the process to the challenge at hand. To make it simpler to understand for someone who has never been to one of our workshops, just assume you come up with an idea that needs you to change the model of your company, in practice Business Innovation. The creative problem-solving tools you use in this situation are different than, say if you were innovating at a process level to increase your customer’s experience. Using this platform allow us to have all the different tools, either for Business or Process Innovation and allows the participants to follow their path to deliver a relevant final idea. Workshops run smoothly and save precious time and money to our customers while keeping the focus and momentum in the idea generation.

Basically, the idea is to turn the process as agile as possible, without losing relevancy while addressing real needs. At the same time, make it as flexible as possible, and incorporating the iteration approach, so characteristic of the Design Thinking process.
Luís Madureira was invited by Hi INTERACTIVE to write this article.

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