Integrating Innovation

As we barrel into the holiday season, one word on every business’ wishlist seems to be “innovation.” This past month, Angela Yeh, Founder and CEO of Yeh IDeology, took part in DMI’s Web Conversations, sharing her 7 best tips for innovation success and 3 major pitfalls to avoid. This week and in those to follow, we’ll be revisiting Angela’s talk in our blog series, “Integrating Innovation,” while highlighting excerpts, thoughts from the talk, and delving further into each as we go.

Shall we begin?

Step #1: Defining Innovation. What and Where Change is Right for You.

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Innovation means change. Pamela Decesare, member of the Board of Directors at DMI, said it aptly: “There is no doubt that companies today are quickly realizing that innovation is not an agenda item for an off-site meeting, or a serendipitous occurrence, but rather something that requires long-term goals, focused planning, internal and external examination, and ultimately, investment, to be meaningful and effective.

Let's step back and talk about what we see going on right now – in design strategy and the overall “umbrella” of, call it, innovation space, we’re seeing thousands of individuals, today, migrating to the vertical sector of design, strategy, and innovation.

The disconnect that we’re noticing, however, is that on one hand, there are many individuals building immense design capability, while on the other, from a business perspective, organizations observing this trend are frantically asking, “How do I capture this innovation and build it into the business? What method is best for me?”

With more than 15 years of working with diverse organizations, from major corporations and top consultancies, to startups and small agencies, one thing we can reaffirm again and again, is that there are many different ways to build innovation. There is no one-size fits all, universal solution. The “not-so-simple” fact is that innovation must be customized case by case.

What kind of change do you want? What kind of change do you need?

One of the most important aspects of innovation is what we call Discovery. In this early phase, discovery is a way to begin the conversation – not for solutions – to open a dialogue that will inform and constrain the rest of the initiative going forward.

In the Discovery phase, you and everyone involved should begin by asking: Where is your company today? This is where you take stock, a dip test for the current state of things which serves as your baseline to work from. An annual report is a good starting point.

Next, ask yourself: Where do you want to go? What are the 1, 2, 5 and 10-year goals for your company? Keep the bar high, as there will be plenty of opportunities to dive into the details later. With higher targets in mind, the further you can reach. Identify aspects that are working well within your company, and those conducive towards your goals. And equally important, diagnose ones that are not working well.

Being able to construct questions that help gain valuable insights is a challenge, but a first step closer to your goal! Stay tuned for step two to Integrating Innovation...

Next on our blog series: Step #2: Scaling Innovation. Incremental or Monumental

Interested in this topic or others we've been speaking about? Want to hear directly from Angela Yeh and her 15+ years of design recruiting experience? Drop us a line at