As corporate innovation enjoys a resurgence of research among mainstream media and consultants, I’m seeing design thinking receive more attention beyond industry practitioners who focus on product development. A good case in point is the publication of Jeremiah Owyang’s new blog post, “Your Guide to Innovation and Design Methods.”

Jeremiah is a well known thought leader and entrepreneur who founded Crowd Companies, which helps businesses grow and innovate through the collaborative economy. He recently published a report, The Corporate Innovation Imperative, and has been blogging about some of the topics related to unlocking corporate innovation, including design methods.

His post is an excellent snapshot of design approaches ranging from rapid prototyping to design thinking. He calls out design thinking because it “encourages exploration of unconventional solutions by forcing innovators to go beyond their instincts and experience.” As he writes, “Design thinking starts with the challenge of defining not just any problem but the right problem, and that requires developers to leave the comfort of stereotypes and theories to confront the realities of their customers’ situations and habits.”

My take: business leaders like Jeremiah Owyang are important because they act as town criers, calling attention to the ideas that product development teams need to understand in order to innovate effectively. That Jeremiah is a mainstream writer and business entrepreneur is also instructive to someone like me who is in the weeds of implementing design thinking each day with clients.

I’ve also been blogging a bit about design thinking in recent weeks. As I assert in a recent blog post, design thinking is valuable as a technique for product development — but having experienced the realities of implementing design thinking, I firmly believe that the approach requires a strong implementation capability to succeed.

As I wrote recently, brands need to combine design thinking with a delivery capability to get the most value out of design thinking. Too often, the creator of a design thinking prototype tosses the idea over to another department (usually IT) for product development. As a result of poor collaboration, design-thinking prototypes fail to deliver on their original promise.

At Moonshot, we help clients mitigate against this problem by combining design thinking with lean innovation to design and develop products through a unified process. We build cross-functional teams that not only design together but also implement together. That way, people from different departments think and work together.

I also recently discussed some of the signs that a team should look for in order to know whether it is doing design thinking right. Those signs range from a work place that is set up to foster collaboration to the use of tools such as journey maps that keep a design-thinking team focused on the needs of the customer. I encourage you to read that blog post as well.

Proponents of design thinking should celebrate when a thinker and doer like Jeremiah Owyang discusses the topic. He elevates the topic to the C-suite decision makers of Fortune 1000 firms. I predict that as businesses learn how to make innovation an everyday reality, design thinking will become more of a household word. Contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed with design thinking and lean innovation.

Mike Edmonds

Mike Edmonds

Managing Director, VP Product