Design Works: A design-based blueprint for innovation

Design Works, a new book by Heather Fraser, outlines a practical approach for incorporating design thinking into your innovation processes, and provides numerous tips for being successful with it. This blueprint focuses on three “gears” to help spur innovation: empathy and understanding, concept visualization and strategic business design.

The first half of the book provides an in-depth look at the three “gears” of design thinking – the framework for Fraser’s approach:

Empathy and understanding: To understand the opportunity that might exist, you must start with empathy for others and an understanding of what matters to people. Usually, we rely on market reports and surveys to get a handle on potential customers. But she says that while that gives you a good measure of the customer characteristics, habits, and values that you believe to be important, it often does not contribute to a deeper understanding of their underlying motivations and unmet needs, Fraser explains.

Concept visualization: With that understanding, the hunt can begin in earnest for the breakthrough idea. You now have license and ambition to explore new possibilities, including some that would have been considered beyond your operating scope. You will pick from a variety of tools to generate ideas, design new and ideal experiences, develop multiple prototypes to test your ideas, and create with your potential customers the best possible offering.

Strategic business design: Finally, you can move on to consider the organizational side of things, developing a strategy to deliver the vision. Ms. Fraser warns that this will take the same rigour and ingenuity required to develop your new breakthrough proposal. Often things can fall apart here, as organizations find themselves with lots of promising ideas but don’t know how to fit them with other ideas and programs into a formidable strategy.

The second half of Design Works provides a series of fast-paced, practical tips for implementing these ideas, which should appeal to many innovation practitioners.

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