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  • Carol Wong

Design thinking creates a harmonious balance of constraints


Most large established companies innovate from the direction of technical feasibility based on their long-term research and development programs. Given the speed of industry changes, many companies are shifting to shorter-term applied innovation.


Small technology-driven and innovation-minded companies often innovate from the direction of user needs or problems. Such an approach is commonly known as design thinking, a human-centered, desirability-based approach.


Driving corporate innovation from a consumer-centered perspective will allow companies to exploit their assets, customer base, brands, customer service, distribution, and supply chain networks. Companies will be well-positioned to discover breakthroughs within their existing or adjacent markets.


The design thinking process will bring about a harmonious balance between the constraints of desirability-feasibility-viability. In contrast to the technical design and management, design thinking practitioners adopt a system of overlapping innovation spaces that are not in sequential order. The starting points of innovation can be at any step or innovation space of the design thinking process.


Each step allows the design thinking practitioners to loop back through the innovation spaces more than once in refining the problem-solution fit. Through the innovation journey, design thinking practitioners adopt the approach of identifying the real human needs and generating ideas to meet these needs.


Rapid prototyping and testing of ideas provide the opportunity to validate or invalidate the problem-solution fit. The iterative process facilitates the experimentation of the boundaries and constraints of the desirability-feasibility-viability of the conceptual solution.


The pursuit of the Sweet Spot does not mean that all constraints are created equal. The innovation project could be driven disproportionately by technology, budget, and human factors. Design thinking practitioners will emphasize real human needs - unlike innovation based on artificially manipulated needs, throughout the innovation project implementation considerations.

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