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101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization Paperback – October 9, 2012
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Amazon Exclusive: Author Vijay Kumar on The Five Basic Insights That Drive Innovation in Organizations
Today we are flooded with the term “innovation” everywhere -- in magazines, journals, conferences, books, blogs, boardrooms, and news. Yes, with this level of attention being paid to “innovation”, it feels like “innovation has arrived!” It has made a splash in the world, especially in the world of business! But, what does this really mean to an organization? How does this energy and enthusiasm impact a person’s daily activities at work?
Innovation wins customers, creates competitive advantage, and increases profit for organizations. But it’s also a notoriously risky venture to enter into, resulting in extremely low success rates and reluctance on the part of investors and decision-makers to support it. Does innovation have to be so risky and unpredictable?
I’m attacking these issues head on by articulating a vision of a reliable, repeatable, and structured approach for driving innovation in organizations.
This vision is shaped by five basic insights about innovation.
1. Innovation is a discipline, not a mystery.
Practicing innovation is not a mystery, contrary to what most people believe. Innovation is a discipline. It can be planned, practiced, improved, and excelled at. It can be formalized as a disciplined process. We can approach the practice of innovation (creating new products, services, and customer experiences) like a science, with a set of practical and rigorous methods, tools, and frameworks.
2. Innovation process needs clear modes, mindsets, and methods.
Modes provide innovators the focus necessary to deal with complex innovation challenges. Mindsets provide them with clear ways of thinking to fully understand challenges and appropriately conceive responses. Methods facilitate step-by-step actions to reach desired outcomes and end goals. This way of framing structured innovation is particularly valuable for innovators to effectively work together as teams.
3. Four primary forces shape innovations.
The primary forces that shape successful innovations are business, technology, design, and society. Business force relates to the question of what is viable in the market -- where are the market gaps and how to fill them. Technology force looks for what is possible with new emerging technologies and how to create new offerings. Design force asks the question of what is desirable for people and how to create humanized solutions. Society force is focused on what is sustainable for the community and the environment. Integrating these forces produce innovations that deliver higher user and economic value.
4. Innovations need collaboration and teamwork.
Innovations use structured and disciplined processes in which all stakeholders participate. For example, engineers, technologists, business analysts, strategists, researchers, designers, social scientists, community members, and even end-users participate in the process. Collaborative thinking at many levels of the organization is needed to conceive reliable solutions.
5. The same generic process benefits many diverse projects.
A generalized innovation process -- comprehensively conceived for observing, reframing, ideating, prototyping, and planning -- can be used to develop a wide variety of concepts like products, services, experiences, messages, channels, business models, or strategies. It can also support the needs of various types of organizations -- corporate businesses, social organizations, governments, entrepreneurs, or networked organizations.
"Design thinking is a method that can be applied to nearly any endeavor, business scenario, or social reform. In his book, 101 Design Methods, author Vijay Kumar describes how design methods can be applied as a science, rather than through art, through practical steps of observation, reframing, ideation, prototyping, and planning." (Contract Magazine, May 2013)
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1. Universal Principles of Design, by Lidwell, et. al.
2. The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman
3. Sketching User Experiences, the Workbook, by Bill Buxton, et. al.
4. This book, 101 Design Methods
The first two on my list are about design principles. They help you understand how to recognize and diagnose poor design.
The second two are about the design process. What steps do you go through to get a good design?
I don't believe in highly prescriptive processes, and the author of this book doesn't either. Since projects and teams vary so much, you need a menu of options to construct a good design process for your circumstances. This book gives you many, many options, and discusses the pros and cons of each. I found myself knowing right away if I thought a particular method would work for me and the teams I lead.
If you are looking for step-by-step recipes to do design, this isn't the book for you. If you want to consider lots of ways to do design, and choose the ones you think apply to your case, then I don't think you can find a better book for that than this one.
If you're in need of a how-to book, this will not be sufficient. For methods that are well worn, or attributed to others (i.e. Doblin), this book presents a clear menu of options for reference, which can be researched in greater depth. Since no book can be fully exhaustive or definitive, this is absolutely appropriate.
A number of the methods are of Kumar's making. To have access to the methods of someone as renowned as Kumar is great, but these methods receive no more documentation or explanation than the more common methods. Unfortunately, this is the only document that references those methods, which makes them of limited use to anyone who wishes to employ them in design research.
101 design methods turns out to be 101 tools for the innovation process (from initial stage all the way through to commercialization). The whole process is covered but it is fair to say that the focus in around the prototype stage. If you have read a book about design consultancy IDEO you know pretty much the type of work described in this book (anthropological methods, Post-it notes, etc.)
Each method gets two pages, which are identically structured:
* 10% description of method. Unfortunately this section is far too short. Sadly the author provides absolutely no references. Instead he takes credit as if these methods were novel. You might think that in a book for practitioners, references are not so important. Fair response, but at the very least there should have been some references for further readings.
* 35% picture. This is generally an illustrative picture. Good.
* 20% case study. It is nice with case studies even though they are written up in a too sanitized way. In fact, the section is often a repetition of the description of the method. The most typical case study is a not-for-profit service.
* 25% practical steps. The steps are always almost identical: identity, analyze, report. This section is extremely tedious and repetitive. Totally useless material.
* 10% filler material. Also not useful.
I seriously question the author's judgement when describing the methods in this manner. Personally, I don't like the very mechanical approach of presenting the tools. Still, there will definitely be some methods that you would like to look further into. For this reason the book could have been a three star book, if the author would have given the reader some advice for further readings. If the case studies would have been more illustrative the book would probably be worth four stars.
The book is printed in full color on pretty good paper. The layout of the book feels modern and professional.
Bought for a class thinking it'd be a good book to keep on my shelf, but I sold it back as soon as I was done. I would never reach for it.
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Great methods book.Read more