The ABCD of Innovation


Innovation is everywhere. Funding calls, seminars, advice and my personal favourite elevator pitches (shudder). How can we make sense of it all and more importantly where do you start?

If 20 years in design and engineering consultancy have taught me anything, it usually helps to start at the beginning. Possibly an obvious statement, but actually it’s very common for an established company to bring a design consultancy in when they have thought of a ‘solution’ and ‘just need someone to design it’.

Companies start because there is a gap in the market or a new technology that ‘disrupts’ or because someone got pissed off with how ‘it has always been done’. That is the big breakthrough. To continue to do that when you are up and running is hard.

How can anyone be expected to run a company, which requires a complete and utter focus on fulfilment and delivery of a service or product to the highest quality AND take a big enough step back to see what they can do to improve or grow?

So where to start?

Innovation and design are most effective when they are embedded in a company and even more so when aligned to an innovation strategy.

In business every action needs a plan, otherwise, it’s just random and therefore risky. Innovation is no exception, it needs a strategy so that everyone in the company knows why changes are being made and how. This is A.

Once a strategy has been established (and like every good plan, it needs to be flexible), you can start your research into your customers, your infrastructure and your route to market and what that new opportunity might look like. This is B.

The next bit is about understanding if it will fly (especially if you design planes), which involves lots of prototyping. We’ve all heard about failing fast to learn quickly. This is C

You got this far and things are looking good. You know what you are making, you know why and you know this particular innovation will add value to the company now and in the future. You are now ready for D.

Following the ABCD of innovation means you reduce the risk and therefore the investment required to grow your company. It’s not rocket science (unless you design rockets of course).

Take care.

Will M.

4c Design