For a Culture of Innovation, Design Thinking Is Not Enough

April 2022 | Strategy

For a Culture of Innovation, Design Thinking Is Not Enough

Seeking to create a culture of innovation, where products, services, and processes are continuously created and refined? Eyeing your supply chain or business model for post-pandemic growth and competitive advantages? While often touted as The Answer, design thinking alone won’t get you there.

The popular approach is undoubtedly vital for encouraging creative problem-solving at the individual and team level. But design thinking is just one step in developing a culture that supports innovative thinking and strategically extracts value from ideas.

“Innovation is about meeting the strategic needs of the business,” says Christian Terwiesch, co-director of Wharton’s Mack Institute of Innovation Management, “and with today’s scarcity of resources and intensified competition, it is more important than ever. It is not an isolated endeavour, or a search for a headline-making ‘spark of genius.’ If you are looking for exceptional innovation opportunities, and a structured approach for identifying and capitalizing on them, you need to go beyond design thinking.”

Terwiesch and Mastering Innovation: Strategy, Process, and Tools program co-director Karl Ulrich developed an “architecture for innovation” (described in detail here) that has been used by hundreds of firms, executives, and MBA students to identify new drugs, select strategic priorities, develop apps, and create more patient-centric ways to deliver medical treatments.

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