When clients say they are innovators

When clients say they are innovators…

In my work with design studio owners I often hear that clients have asked for design that shows they are innovators. This makes me wonder if they understand the complex link between design and innovation.

In short you can’t have innovation without design.

Let’s look at what it takes to be an innovative business.

Innovation in business turns ideas into competitive advantage.

Innovation occurs when ideas and new knowledge are applied to the production of goods and services. It aims to improve product quality and process performance. Innovation is a driver of renewal and growth within a business that spreads to the wider economy.

Creative ideas that may lead to innovation come from multiple sources including staff within a business, technology and scientific specialists and from consumers/users.

You know innovation has worked when it adds competitive advantage.

Design creates competitive advantage when it connects creativity and innovation.

Design shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers.

Design may be described as creativity deployed to a specific end.

Design as part of innovation

A creative and human-centred approach to problem solving.

The success of adopting human-centred design principles at the heart of the business is shown in businesses such as at Apple and Dyson.
‘Design Thinking’ is based in creative activities and thinking styles that deploy design methods within strategic business management.

A management process that develops new products and services.  

The design process is a well defined series of activities that guides and controls research, prototyping, iteration, development and production in manufacturing and service businesses. The design process usually includes both technical design (such as engineering for manufacture) and creative design (such as experience and identity).

Professionals linked by a common discipline.

Good design outcomes in business are supported by professional designers and design managers, who may work in a consultancy or within client businesses. The profession of design has developed over more than 150 years, transitioning from the delivery of outputs (printed materials, engineering drawings) to outcomes (competitive advantage).

So how do you explain this to a client who says they are innovative.

Start by questioning where their innovation adds value. Design value chain analysis is a process that does this by analysing where the client is currently adding value, where they could add value and how design can add even more value. You can use this to see if they are practicing human centred design throughout the business. You can also examine if they use design as part of their management process and if they are using professional designers.

You want more?

Design Value Chain analysis is an ideal method to understand a clients’ competitive advantage.

Greg Branson


Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.

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Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.