Design thinking is nothing but a part of innovation process

posted by Ravi Arora November 13, 2017

In one of my earlier posts I discussed that Innovation is generally understood as an end outcome – mostly as a product, sometimes as a service and rarely as a process. ‘Innovative thinking’ is best used as a synonym for ‘Creative thinking’. Innovation experts have tried hard to explain the larger scope of innovative thinking that included items like – finding current and changing customer’s needs and behavior, exploring technology trends, focusing on usability and intuitiveness and importance of organizational systems in enabling innovations. Unfortunately, the understanding of innovation is so deeply rooted to outcomes – products and services that the managers could not adopt the enlarged scope of innovative thinking. This led to leaders and managers focus on creativity alone to drive innovations, which has failed to deliver results in most situations. (read my earlier post on the difference between innovation and creativity).

This gap between innovation and innovative-thinking has been excellently filled by ‘Design thinking’, a subject that was introduced much later. I see no difference between the two – ‘Design thinking’ and ‘Innovative thinking’. ‘Design thinking’ has been introduced as a verb – process steps to achieve the end outcome – innovation.

While the subject is gaining momentum rapidly, companies are confused between designs, design thinking and innovations. The confusion is understandable, and my recommendation is to encourage all three subjects as they are complimentary and have no conflict whatsoever. If one has an end outcome (innovation) in mind, application of Design-thinking would make the innovation process more efficient and the outcome more effective. Large companies may have an objective to have a simpler process for innovation and Design thinking will contribute in making this happen.

Design and Design thinking are two different things like Innovation and innovative thinking. When we think of Design it is about the end outcomes. It could be the design of a building, product, space, website, mobile-app etc. It is used for physical items and increasingly for experience.

In the next post, I will clarify this with the example of suitcases.