Designing the way we do business innovation

After receiving the lowdown on what design thinking is, we asked Lukasz Liebersbach, Innovation Advisor on the Innovate2Succeed programme, what advice he would give to organisations seeking success through innovation

Often, we associate creativity with out of the box thinking. While this is true, design thinking is best summed up as creativity under control.

What advice would you give to businesses looking to implement design thinking?

I would say that the best way to introduce an organisation to design thinking is through a workshop or a pilot project focusing on the needs of their existing users. It is a way of working that is very different to what most organisations are accustomed to so it is important to try it first hand and feel the excitement that comes from empathising with users, brainstorming with colleagues and building prototypes. Design thinking is a team sport. It is not about passing the ball from one department to another, which often culminates in employees losing track of the original problem. Design thinking encourages all team members to be present and committed.

How is the design thinking process managed?

A design thinking team is usually led by a moderator who keeps track of progress and facilitates different sessions and exercises. The team is made of employees from different areas within the business who bring and share their skillsets and perspective regardless of their rank.

Each and every one of these team members is part of the user research and ideation process. This ensures that everyone is on board and understands the problem from the user’s perspective. This fosters an enthusiastic working environment as each member becomes eager to solve the problem and they are not simply the recipient of a brief.

Is it difficult in practice to implement collaboration?

Traditional and large companies find this more challenging as they are struggling with silos and strict structures. Such organisations require a significant mental shift; they need to become more agile if they are to successfully achieve innovation through design thinking. For smaller start-ups and SMEs, collaboration is naturally easier to achieve.

How important is brainstorming in design thinking?

It is vital that team members are given the freedom to experiment and propose outrageous ideas. As long as these ideas are then tested and validated, creative brainstorming forms a crucial part of the overall design thinking process. If from the outset, a team member or business owner says that an idea is impossible, then this will undoubtedly kill the spirit of exploration and ideation.


How crucial is customer feedback to achieving innovation?

In many cases, companies receive feedback when something goes wrong, as consumers will complain to customer service about a specific problem. This feedback is valuable and can help to fix certain defects but the amount of information is very limited. Companies need to be proactive and spend time with their users to understand what they struggle with on a day-to-day basis.

How can managers avoid risk, while exploring innovation through design thinking? 

Undertaking a pilot project is the natural first step as it minimises risks through removing potential project delays, wasted resources and costly errors. A pilot project demonstrates how design thinking operates in practice. You can then witness the benefits and outcomes, and apply these throughout the whole organisation once it is a proven success.

How is a pilot project managed?

It often starts with a one or two-day workshop to give a taste of how the approach works, through enabling businesses to speak to its users and carry out ideation.

Following the workshop, the pilot project then goes deeper by striving to gain further insight through:

  • Researching users to gain empathy
  • Discovering gaps based on users’ needs
  • Defining the innovation challenges
  • Brainstorming through ideation
  • Building rapid prototypes and testing these with the end users
  • Delivering products and services that solve problems

Wake Up Design event

Thames Valley Berkshire will be co-hosting the Wake Up Design event on Fri 17 November 2017 @GROW at Green Park Reading. To hear more from Lukasz Liebersbach about design thinking and innovation, book your place today

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