Currently viewing the tag: "Empathy and innovation"

What can it be and why?

Companies always seek the best way to remain competitive on the market and for a long time that one hears and reads that innovation is the key to competitiveness in the global economy.

Often, what actually happens is that it is not the innovation that keeps these companies in the competition, but rather a kind of renovation of the offerings of these companies, through the continuous improvement of their business.

However, some companies seek to enter the market with truly new competencies, which include a deeper understanding of their consumers while people.

“Research has shown that design is a significant source of competitive advantage. Companies that invest in their design capability and develop a reputation for innovation can avoid competing on price alone…

Design Council research has found the design function being used by global companies to foster innovation across organisational boundaries:

  • LEGO has developed a new design system to run its whole innovation process… The system has allowed LEGO to cut its average design cycle from two years to six months.
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways uses design as a key competitive differentiator… and has created a service design department which works with the crew management and HR departments to develop and deliver new offerings.
  • Whirlpool now sees design and innovation as central to its growth strategy…”

We can think about design as a simpler level where people make choices about the design of things or at the level of how to create with greater fluency and expertise.

We can also think of design as design processes that can be used to decide what to do, employing interdisciplinary project teams that leverage the power of intuition or we can think of design as research that can give access to knowledge.

But what does promote innovation is the mindset of design thinking whose fundamental elements are a strategic direction to identify opportunities for innovation, inspiration and freedom of thinking to understand change and to imagine the future and anticipate the desires, giving rise to the ideas and co-creation to be refined in prototyping.

This way of thinking makes businesses more agile and able to respond to the regular and diverse requirements of the markets, and they are more dynamic and effective responses because creativity is not seen as an intermittent activity and linked to a restricted process.

To the design thinking teams is required flexibility and guaranteed the freedom to learn from the project that evolves naturaly.

“A company can’t will itself to be agile. Agility is an emergent property that appears when an organization has the right mindset, the right skills, and the ability to multiply those skills through collaboration. To count agility as a core competence, you have to embed it into the culture. You have to encourage an enterprisewide appetite for radical ideas. You have to keep the company in a constant state of inventiveness. It’s one thing to inject a company with inventiveness. It’s another thing to build a company on inventiveness.” – Marty Neumeier

Design thinking is, intrinsically, a prototyping process that feeds the deep understanding of what people want and enjoy (or not) about the way things are done, made, distributed, etc. That is, design thinking try to understand people as a whole when performing a specific activity, not just what they do, but how they feel and how is that their needs connect to other situations in their life.

Through design thinking, innovations do not come from incremental adjustments. They arise from the work of interdisciplinary teams of T shaped people, constantly encouraged to fail early to be able to respond to changing market conditions.

It is essential to look beyond what is, and see what could be, using the imagination to generate entirely new solutions and identify what will drive the success of the solutions.

It is the integration of design thinking in organizations that will dictate the success of its activities and this integration is fully and effectively when the employees of enterprises:

Embrace constraints. Design thinkers work with constraints (time, budget, location, materials). They identify their limitations and do not create the perfect solution, but the best solution, given the constraints.

Take risks. Design thinkers are comfortable with the notion of what can be wrong, but they do experiments and try new approaches.

Ask everything. Design thinkers ask numerous questions that may lead to the question of law, which will lead to the correct answer.

Design thinking is not a matter of tools. Design thinkers from diverse areas spend much time away from tools such as “new technology”, using paper and pencil to sketch their ideas.

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We and the others!

I think that when we want to accomplish a creative work with added value, we seek to provide satisfaction to people but also ourselves. We all like to be recognized by our actions and this implies that people, whom we direct our actions, are satisfied.

Therefore, the best starting point to innovate are people, not things, i.e. is not the technology or science or anything else.

We should start by studying people with an attitude of curiosity and deep understanding. We must try to see things as a whole and try to understand how these things could be otherwise.

When we observe when we do research of people’s behavior and their relationship with their world, we can make the mapping from the experience of people observed using the eyes of them, wearing their shoes or living in their environment, that is with a clear attitude of empathy.

However this is only possible when we abandon the certainties and start with the questions.

What has value here?

What creates and remove value from the experience of people? 

How would it be if I were in that situation? Will my emotional reactions to a situation be identical to those of other people?

Why is it that people feel that way and I don’t?

The best way to answer these questions is creating a map of the observations and conclusions that we reached. In this way we can confront our perception of things with what we had assumed as fact. To verify the reasons for the differences between what we thought and what we have seen is an important step in understanding the significance of the problems and therefore a good way to find the solution.

To find a solution it necessary to visualize all the ideas of new possibilities and business models, including the proposals of users or consumers. We may think that they only express wishes or dreams and not the solution that we believe to be viable and achievable, however, such wishes or dreams can be hidden needs that we not have detected.

The ideas we need to be worked through research to develop the concept of adding value.

What should work to succeed?

Do I need all this? Do I need less?

To seek solutions to the problems of people in a given context is an arduous task that requires constant energy. So it is precious that on occasion also ask ourselves:

I’m doing what I like?

Will be that I’m giving my best?

What about my team?

What’s wonderful in all this activity around looking for an innovative solution, in addition to a constant learning in a variety of disciplines including behavioral observation, is the possibility that we can quickly build prototypes and test its effectiveness, then refining and returning the test until the time of the launch.

This means that experimentation is a place of learning where to fail is not a tragedy but a lever for excellence that is reached with hard work and persistence but that ensures a sustained satisfaction.

If we have space for reflection easily we find that our satisfaction, while innovators, and the satisfaction of the people to whom we propose solutions with purpose and meaning depends on our ability to identify their needs, are they not articulated or hidden.

If the starting point are people the arrival point is our realization with satisfaction.

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