In the three blog posts prior to this one, we explored the macro trends emerging from our collective experiences with COVID-19. It appears they might affect the way we all conduct business for the foreseeable future, if not permanently.

But understanding trends is only the first step. Every company needs to consider the impact those trends might have on the business and, more importantly, develop a strategy for addressing that impact and a vision of how best to think past survival mode and compete.

Using Narrative-Based Innovation to plan your next move

Magnani has developed a variation of design thinking called Narrative-Based Innovation. The process uses detailed storytelling…

A few weeks back, I was listening to an episode of the podcast “ The Skeptics Guide to the Universe,” and the host, Steven Novella, was discussing the asymmetrical time frames of destruction and restoration when considering the fate of the polar ice caps. If we do nothing about climate change, the models show a significant decline in the ice caps over the next 100 years and a total disappearance within a thousand years. The next point, however, was the one that struck me as most serious. …

For any experience to truly connect with people, it must engage both halves of their brain. Now, we understand that this mythical separation of domain between the right and left hemispheres of the brain is more rooted in pop culture than science, but it is still an apt framework for this discussion. While some like to say UX and UI are two sides of the same coin, I think it’s more apt to call them two halves of the same brain. The analytical versus the aesthetic. The data versus the qualia. The objective versus the subjective. You get the idea…

You’ve undoubtedly been in brainstorming sessions. Some of these sessions have likely been fruitful, others disappointing. We often get asked how ideation is different from brainstorming on “ Brilliant.”- a podcast hosted by Magnani’s president. One guest distinguished the two types of sessions by asserting most brainstorms are simply “meetings… with better food.” But beyond that perhaps undeserved jab at brainstorming, there are several aspects that separate brainstorms from formal ideation.

First, what is an ideation session, anyway?

Before I jump into the difference between a brainstorm and an ideation session, I should provide some context for anyone unfamiliar with this process.

In traditional design-thinking, the ideation…

Photo by Anthony Menecola on Unsplash

Recently, at Experience Design Week in Denver, we led a round table discussion with a group of experience design professionals who worked for a range of companies; some as large as Amazon and Google, some as small as a recently-pivoted tech startup. No matter the size of the enterprise, we heard the same issues discussed as challenges from nearly every participant:

  • Clearly defining and coming to consensus around what problem to solve
  • Maintaining the perspective of the end customer throughout the design process
  • Designing an experience that satisfies the needs of a broad range of potential audiences — from end…

There are two paths to innovation. One resides in our timeline just beyond now-solving a problem that exists today with technologies and resources available today. For comparison’s sake, let’s call it simple forecasting. The other path resides in our timeline years into the future-solving a problem that is, at least according to the tea leaves of trends and R&D pipelines, imminent, using technologies or resources that may not be currently available. That’s futurecasting.

Why would an organization spend time and resources today solving a problem that may not exist for years?

For starters, it aids in long-term strategic planning. Simply informing your forward-looking opinions with as much research and forethought should add an increased level of confidence in…

And that’s a good thing.

Watching the world’s automakers respond (or not, as the case may be) to Tesla, has been interesting, to say the least. I find it fascinating to see an established market watch a competitor waltz in and secure a beachhead in a successful new category, with a near-zero response from the established powers for years.

All the while, the upstart works hard, establishes a brand, creates a supply chain and builds out proprietary charging infrastructure, not to mention (at the time of this writing) amassing the largest market capitalization of any US automaker. Even today, some of the largest, most advanced…

Innovators are notoriously tough people to buy gifts for. They’re early adopters, so the stuff they likely want isn’t on sale yet, or worse, they couldn’t wait and already bought whatever it is for themselves. They get bored easily, so to be worth our effort and hard-earned dollars, the things you buy for them really need to offer thoughtful and engaging enough experiences to bring them back, time and time again. So, how can you find something truly sensational to give them? …

There’s a classic Venn diagram generally attributed to Ideo’s Tim Brown that points to the reality that for an idea to be considered an innovation, it needs to satisfy three criteria: desirability (people would want it), feasibility (it is something that can realistically be created) and viability (it can be made and offered in a way that makes financial sense for the business). Academics or inspired home tinkerers may be satisfied with any combination of one or two of these qualities, but a business, especially a publicly held business, needs to satisfy all three.

They say, “To innovate, you need to be more agile.” They’re oversimplifying.

I’m not sure who first promoted the idea that the greatest determiner of whether a corporation could successfully innovate is an ill-defined, immeasurable quality named “agility.” I am sure that the individual in question had a penchant for oversimplification. Just do a search for “agile business” books on Amazon, and the results are well over the 2,000 result threshold where Amazon stops counting. It’s not that a company shouldn’t have the qualities linked to the idea of agility. …

Justin Daab

Innovator. Design Thinker. Composer. Tinkerer.

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