Many people understand innovation to be simply the process of inventing a new technology. When you have your new invention, then you have an “innovation.“
This view is far too simplistic. In contrast, design thinking offers you a method to approach the process of innovation, and thus achieve a more sophisticated understanding of innovation itself.
Design thinking encourages us to take an integrative approach to innovation. This approach combines three overlapping “spaces,” through which a project may cycle several times.
First comes inspiration. In this space, we consider a problem or opportunity, thinking about what we can do to solve the problem or bring the opportunity to fruition.
Second is ideation. Here we develop our ideas and theories, and then put them to the test.
Last is implementation. In this space, we introduce our idea to the market.
You won’t march directly through these three spaces – rather, most innovations will pass through each space a number of times as part of the design thinking process.
For example, during the process of ideation, you could develop a product with features that go beyond addressing your initial problem. In this case, you might want to revisit the inspiration process, to consider what different kinds of problems your product’s new feature could solve.
To create an integrated solution, a design thinker must balance three aspects: feasibility, viability and desirability. Whereas a “normal” designer may resolve the different aspects of a project separately and one by one, a design thinker brings them all together as one harmonious solution.
The gaming console Nintendo Wii offers an example of an integrated solution that perfectly balances feasibility, viability and desirability.
Nintendo introduced gestural control to console gaming, which at the time was not only feasible (if not cutting-edge) but viable. The company also priced the console less than other machines on the market, while providing a more immersive experience for the player – thus making the Wii desirable for their target market.
In the course of your design projects, you too should make this integrative approach the foundation of your design thinking.