3 lessons in innovation that changed my way of thinking

Have yOne_new_thing_a_dayou ever heard that you should learn one new thing a day? Well one September day I was lucky to learn three interesting new things that changed my way of thinking. I attended an intensive course held by Design Thinking gurus Gijs van Wulfen and Katja Tschimmel. Design Thinking offers a process to transform challenges into opportunities. Isn’t that something that we all want? Tschimmel says that Design Thinking is a way of thinking which leads among other things to transformation, evolution and innovation. In Design Thinking innovation is a very collaborative process. “You can invent alone, but you can not innovate alone.” says van Wulfen. According to Liedtka et al. (2011) innovation is not about producing ideas nobody else has ever thought of before; it’s about creating better value for customers and your company by combining elements into innovative business designs.

Here’s three insights that caught my attention during the course:

1. People never agree on what is an innovation

Innovation can be desI_disagreecribed as the delivery of a viable, new, elegant offering. We were asked by Gijs van Wulfen what is an innovation: We were shown pictures of an iPad and a frozen pizza among other things – we didn’t seem to agree unanimously on any of the images shown.

Lesson I learned: Take discussion from defining things to creating understanding of the value of innovation.

2. Ownership of an idea

Mr. van WulInnovationfen asked us: Do you like your kids? Yes, we nodded, some of us laughing. Do you love your kids? Yes, we answered again. Well, do you like your neighbours’ kids? Yes, we replied. Do you love them? No…

The same thought pattern is good to keep in mind, when presenting new ideas to others: It is harder for others to love your ideas, because the ideas are not their own.

Lesson I learned: Don’t expect everybody to fall in love with your ideas – be prepared to sell, sell and one more time sell your views and ideas.

3. When presenting your ideas, pick a right moment

Have you ever been hunting? WOwlhen you aim your gun to a deer you have to really focus, because you only have one shot. If you miss it, the animal runs away. The same thing applies to picking up the right moment for presenting your ideas to the decision makers of the company. If you choose the timing wrong, your idea might be discarded. You should also present your ideas as conservative as possible to get the support of the CEO or top management. After that you can innovate more freely.

Lesson I learned: No matter how much you love your idea and want to tell about it to the whole world, be analytical about the next steps.

I think Gijs van Wulfen said it best: “Your organization is like a herd of animals. The herd goes as fast as the slowest animals. If the non-innovators lean back nothing moves. They do determine actually the pace of the company.”

Written by Marja Roine

Please find more information:

A link to Katja Tschimmel’s visual report of our intensive studies in September: https://sidlaurea.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/visualreport-masterclassdt-laurea2014_light.pdf

Gijs van Wulfen on innovation:


Liedtka, Jeanne & Ogilvie, Tim 2011. Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers, New York: Columbia University Press.

Tschimmel K. 2012. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation

Van Wulfen, G. Present Disruptive Ideas “Inside the Box” not Outside. 2014. https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140516052900-206580-present-disruptive-ideas-inside-the-box-not-outside, accessed 20.10.2014

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