Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto, has written a new book called The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.
The concept of Design Thinking is has really taken hold as a primary innovation strategy in the last few years. It has been pioneered by companies like IDEO and by Experience Design professionals in the Web 2.0 space. Martin contends that design thinking is likely to present challengers to traditional management consulting firms that charge large sums of money for incremental improvements. Design firms, on the other hand, do not limit themselves to thinking based on “proof” or “hard data.” They get creative, get innovative, try new things and see how they work in a fast and nimble way. A consulting firm that brings Design Thinking to its clients would be able to deliver breakthrough results for significantly less money. Combining the skills of traditional consulting firms with design thinking firms could be the winning combination that provides both innovation and acceptable risk management for larger corporations. See the Fast Company article on this subject.
I have been using Design Thinking in my consulting practice for a number of years with excellent results. One of the key assumptions about this kind of work is that everyone can contribute to innovation. It’s important to listen to “the need beneath the need” and ask everyone involved what they would do if there were no limits or constraints. Inevitably creative ideas arise from the collective, the “group mind,” if they are invited to the party.