Ideo’s Tim Brown made some insightful comments at the Adaptive Path’s MXSF conference last week.  He talked about a human-centered approach to innovation called ”Design Thinking”. 

“There are three buckets of innovation: technology, business, and people. All innovation is a combination of those things. Lots of people are doing the technology and business. Technology is the main engine of innovation. Most businesses come from a business perspective. But most designers come at it through people.”

He went on to describe the three phases of Innovation: Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation.  Just most businesses tend to miss importance of being human-centered, I think many of them also spend too little time on the Inspiration phase.  They are good at coming up with what I call solutions in search of a problem.  Instead of asking their customers what problems they would like addressed, they come up with new business ideas that they believe customers want.  Not surprisingly, most of those ideas don’t resonate with customers when they test them.

Really great innovation happens when businesses partner with their customers; when they take the time to understand the customer’s needs, problems and experiences.  This was a key point in Brown’s message:

“Inspiration. Where do ideas come from? Insights are the fuel of inspiration. You don’t get ideas from sitting at your desk. Use the world as a source of inspiration (not as a source of validation). It starts with empathy and seeing things from other people’s viewpoints, not yours.  Aim to understand people on multiple levels: physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially, and culturally.”
~IDEO’s Tim Brown from MXSF 2007

Tip of the Hat to David Armano who posted the quote yesterday


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