Design Research
Design Leadership

Bridging the gap between creative dynamics and business logic

Geke van Dijk and Wietze van der Aa talk about the gap between creativity and business logic and how it inspired their upcoming course.

October 2021
Geke van Dijk and Wietze van der Aa talk about the gap between creativity and business logic and how it inspired their upcoming course.

This article was created with excerpts from the Doing Design Podcast. Listen to the full episode >>

Weitze, a former innovation management professor, and Geke, a design researcher, met about 10 years ago. They quickly recognised that although they come from different backgrounds and fields, their work is very connected and complimentary. In both innovation management and human centred design, people are very creative and working on useful innovative concepts that serve both the businesses and the customers. So they decided to put their experience together.

Different terms are used for the same things. You have the Stage Gate model in innovation management, where you go from one stage to the other to progress on your innovation funnel. In human-centered design we use the Double Diamond, where we say you have the exploration stage, you have the ideation stage...

Advantages of the design approach

The big advantage of design approach or design thinking approach is that you collect these really deep and original insights into what customers do want and how they behave and what they experience. And that is not always that well addressed in innovation, management, or even in marketing.

We understand more and more that design research is a very strong starting point to think about new ideas and solutions for our users and customers. From an innovation point, it is very interesting to see how human-centered designers do that - how you get from insights to generation of ideas to potential solutions.

Advantages of innovation management

The innovation management field might help to see the bigger picture of innovation. Especially in larger organisations, for example, we can explore how idea generation combines with the strategic directions of the organisation. We also consider things like cooperation between various departments which becomes much more important and challenging the further you get in the innovation process. In innovation, you have to collaborate with all kinds of people who are involved in the implementation or further development of your ideas, both inside and outside of your organisation. That's not always addressed explicitly in the design thinking approach.

Design research + innovation management, a beautiful match

Bringing together design and innovation management is a beautiful match.

In design there is often a lot of emphasis, rightly so, on studying the current situation, exploring and understanding where the gaps are, and on identifying where we can go with ideation.

Then, often, the design process sort of ends.

Now how should it be implemented? This is where designers can learn from innovation management. Already in those first stages, you need to be busy asking "How do we connect this to other parts of the businesses?" "How do we line this up for a good roadmap for implement the implementation planning?"

On the other hand, in innovation management we see the real importance of having these good, well documented insights into what customers and users are expecting and experiencing.

One particularly reason why this is so important is in explaining to staff and employees why you are doing this, why you are working on innovation.

In order for the innovation work to happen, many people have to give up something, develop new competencies and skills, learn to work with the new technology or find ways to collaborate with other types of people. There's a lot of changes happening with innovation and people might be rather reluctant.

So you need a strong story, a strong reason why it's so important for the organisation and for the users. You can find this story when you do good research in the beginning in a deep understanding of the people you are working with.

Learn more about how you can bring together design research and innovation management, check out Geke and Wietze's course with This is Doing >>