You need to have the right mindset
Nigel Cross, Emeritus Professor of Design Studies in the UK describes in his book Design Thinking (2011) successful designers as optimists and opportunists, who are exploring uncertainty hopefully and dedicated to the tasks in hand. Unlike engineers who want to test, measure and prove something, designers cope with this uncertainty by analogy-making and intuitive judgements. They also use ethnographic approach in order to dig up tacit knowledge and make new hypothesis of future situation of use.
Cross compared designing to sharing a social process of interaction and to a face-to-face negotiation between different participants of the process. To make a proposal for a solution designers use a wide range of designing techniques, such as sketching, prototyping, mock-ups and scenarios. A successful designer cannot work alone in his studio; being an innovative designer requires capacity to work with a small team that shares the same passion to creative thinking and that is also capable of broad system thinking.
You need to go beneath the surface
Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, an innovation and design firm, points out in his article Design Thinking (2008) that designers have a new role at strategic level in service delivery. He continues that design thinking can radically renew health care services, for instance. Rather than sudden breakthrough, a service innovation process is a systematic creative human-centered process followed by iterative cycles of prototyping and testing. It is hard work at customer interface, not only designing more attractive products, advertising or communication strategies.
You need to have right tools and process