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Innovation is a form of creating new value.

“Value creation in the 20th century was largely defined by the conversion of heuristics to algorithms. It was about taking a fundamental understanding of a ‘mystery” – a heuristic – and driving it to a formula, an algorithm – so that it could be driven to huge scale and scope.” Roger Martin *

All the most successful organisations from the 20th century followed this not so secret recipe. Think about Mac Donald’s, Ford, Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola, Dell and Wallmart.

Value creation in the 21st century deals with problems that can’t be solved by an algorithm. They’re the so called ‘wicked problems’, where multiple factors are playing in the same system, and where the only way to achieve a solution is to think about the future (as opposed to only reorganising the factors, such as an algorithm). By adding value or even a new factor to the ecosystem, design can create a possible solution or a desirable future.

Our challenges nowadays are not about efficiency, but mainly about possibilities. What is the future of jobs? What is the future of banking? What is the future of education? What is the future of healthcare? What is the future of big cities? You can name it!

With the enhancement and evolution of technology, the efficiency problems are being solved, and we’re left with the complex problems and human-related challenges.
For John Maeda, “The march of technology is definitely tied to the emergence of design.” As he also explains, there is an important “radical aspect of design – the ability to rethink things.”*

As a form of generating value, innovation can be a hard task to be achieved nowadays. In the past years, professionals and organisations were exploring the paths in design and innovation. All the major corporations have been at least briefly exposed to design thinking and innovation, but why is innovation not happening yet?

In my opinion, we’re now leaving the times for exploration and divergence of innovation, and we’re now entering a time for convergence and experimentation. The context of business and society are now already aware of the power of design and innovation; the challenge now is to see who can go through the second diamond of the double diamond with success and generate perceived value or even disruption in the market.

The perception for innovation is more accurate. Consumers are not buying innovation positioning without the actual transformation of their lives. Business partners now know how to evaluate if partners have innovation potential and deep design competencies. We’re entering the age for maturity, and with so, exploration needs to be followed by results.

I remember that when we started Echos, design thinking and innovation were unknown words. It was tough to explain why companies needed to innovate and how design could drive innovation. It was like exploring a new world. No common language, no maps, no food and the natives fighting against the newcomers. We had to help find a common language, create the paths and co-create with the natives in order to progress. Fast-forward to 2017, and the scenario changed. Language is now shared (although not so well spoken sometimes), maps are clearer, and the real challenge is to find gold. The challenge is not only to explore possibilities but to deploy them.

As an evolving knowledge, I believe that innovation happens when combining 3 key factors:

1. Innovation mindset (design thinking and digitalisation)
2. The creation of concepts or solutions
3. The abilities and competencies for implementation (best technology  repertoire and availability + design doing skills)


Innovation happens when we combine concept + mindset + competencies and then we can create perceived value or even disruption!

*Quotes from Roger Martin and John Maeda from the book “Rotman on Design” Edited by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen

Written by Juliana Proserpio, CoFounder & Director @Echos

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