Integrating Innovation Step 6

Last November, Angela Yeh, Founder and CEO of Yeh IDeology, took part in DMI’s Web Conversations, geared towards organizations and business owners, management and hiring managers with the specific topic challenge: "How to Build Innovation into Your Organization”   In this series, we’ll be revisiting Angela’s talk, “Integrating Innovation,” while highlighting excerpts, thoughts from the talk, and delving further as we go into each of Angela’s 7 best tips for innovation success and 3 major pitfalls to avoid.

Shall we continue?

INTEGRATING INNOVATION Step #6: Emotion vs. Execution. Reconciling Sexy End-Goals with the Devilish Details

Step 6


Steps 1-5 covered different types of innovation, scaling your initiative(s), determining your starting point, identifying your change agents, and beginning your plan of action.

Ideally, this has proven fun and informative, and put you actively in touch with many members of your organization. With a comprehensive list of Wants and Needs in hand, you should be ready to push forward.

Today’s post, therefore, is about focus.

At this phase of the project, with so much information in front of you, you’re likely to get sidetracked by the very lofty ambitions you’ve just collected. It hinges on visibility. As an example, one of the most common UX/UI needs that we hear from clients is: "We want someone who can make us look like [pick your favorite fruit-inspired tech giant or popular search-engine company].”This is a great end-goal – to be viewed as a peer to a top performer – but it fails to recognize the operational and infrastructural nuances that often underpin this sort of major innovation. When it comes to design, your internal stakeholders often gravitate towards branding and the aesthetic rather than the technical and functional. They get excited by the blue-sky aspirations and gloss over the drier, necessary steps to build a foundation for your project. The majority of your stakeholders will likely fall in this category, with a comparatively lower awareness of innovation than you – whether its not their background or expertise, or they've been more on the support side rather than leadership. In fact, the majority of seasoned design professionals and leaders also fall into this trap because beauty is so captivating. Even when you are consciously aware of the practical need to build the foundation, we’re still strongly drawn to more visible aspects of a project.

In the case of this example, the initial challenges are actually internal, regarding their management structure. So before they could get to being the next Apple or Google, they need to consider what was under their roof – which had nothing to do with the visible, outward facing aspects of their company. As designers, this comes as little surprise. Sexy end-goals are the most remarkable aspects of your initiative, and often the most exciting. It’s the fancy wrapping that gets buy-in, but the actual implementation, the contents of this package, will demand most of your focus, capability, and resources. The key here: build function side by side with aesthetics.

So how do you stay on track? Maintain a clear distinction between exciting blue-sky aspirations and the key necessities. Then, recognizing the emotional incentives around these aspirations, use this to justify attacking the necessary details. Build this into your objectives with constant reminders to stay focused on the key necessities. Educate your stakeholders on this relationship between sexy end-goals and the devilish details and you give your innovation initiative a fighting chance.

Next on our blog series: Step #7: Innovation Continuity. Obtaining Consensus / Maintaining Coordination.

Interested in this topic or others we've been speaking about? Click on the word bubble to leave us a comment, send a tweet, or connect via LinkedIn! Want to hear directly from Angela Yeh and her 15+ years of design recruiting experience? Drop us a line at