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You Must Build Muscle to Innovate
By Moises Norena
In today’s economy companies cannot thrive just by hiring creative people to come up with ideas, it is the organization itself that has to become innovative. One of the most important and often misunderstood foundations to achieve it is the adoption of an innovation process or methodology, terms that may be used interchangeably depending on the context.
There are plenty of proprietary processes out there that utilize the same basic principles like: Diverge then converge, become empathic with the consumer, challenge your paradigms, etc. Within these processes there are tools and techniques that enable teams to actually become innovative, think differently and challenge the status quo! Here is where the magic of innovation happens! Undoubtedly the innovation expert must select the process and tools that are right for the job, not every process is appropriate for every project, company or culture. There are processes like design thinking that are primarily focused on human behaviors and in which the concept creation and refinement comes through the design process itself, but there are others like the Double Diamond that systematically incorporate other perspectives (i.e. analogs, industry dynamics) and in which ideation techniques differ from design thinking. The results are slightly different and the level of resources and expertise to successfully apply them can vary widely.
Having a successful project with the help of experts will not necessarily make the organization innovative, companies need to build muscle. When an organization applies a process in a systematic way during a sustained period of time this muscle starts building and the “innovation bug” starts spreading. I witnessed these in my Whirlpool years; the massive training to i-mentors in the early 2000s is still visible in the language and behavior of the organization.