We define systemic innovation as:
A non-siloed, iterative innovation process practiced by ALL people within the business organization.
Having this clear definition has been a great step for us and our work, but for many business people out there it doesn’t answer one very important question:
What is the method for getting on the path to systemic innovation?
The answer can be illusive. There are a plethora of methods which claim to be the “only method you’ll ever need” for your company to innovate as a whole, and to do so well and often.
Allow us to cut through the jargon and put you on the path. We’ll start by taking a deeper look at some of these up and coming methods.
First among them is Design Thinking. Defined as the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for new products, buildings, machines, etc.) are developed by designers and/or design teams1, it’s a go to innovation method. We like to think of Design Thinking as The method designers use to solve problems, and we employ this method with every client.
Another method climbing up the innovation charts is Human-Centered Design. Defined as a design and management framework that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process2, we like to think of Human-Centered Design through the lens of Using Design Thinking methods to focus on the Human, instead of the system, when solving problems.
A third favorite is the somewhat newbie in the crowd, Experience Design, defined as the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, omnichannel journeys, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions.3 We think the experience design methodology builds nicely from the previous two. We look at it as Using the Human-Centered Design framework to turn solutions into products, processes, services, etc which are part of the customer’s experience with a business.
Finally, we have Organization Design or the creation of roles, processes, and formal reporting relationships in an organization4. To us this method is one which takes the aforementioned frameworks and methods and focuses them on the organization instead of the customer or systems involved.
We are well aware there are many more methods touted as innovation super stars, but for our purposes, these 4 methods are enough. Why? Because at this point we’re sure you’re thinking:
Are any of these actually different, and if so, how do I know which one is the best for my business?
The answer to the first question is simple. No, they aren’t different, at least in concept. There are some nuanced differences, but from a business point of view these methods are by and large the same.
Further, know that the innovation method you employ doesn’t matter until you have one element in place in your organization: a Human-Centered Strategy.
A Human-Centered Strategy is crucial to systemic innovation as it involves understanding the goals and needs of all the humans who are impacted by your business (i.e. customers, employees, stakeholders, investors), then turning the focus of your business towards meeting the goals and needs of all.
Assembling this strategy means conceptualizing the end goal of, then formulating your business’s journey to human centeredness, and once this strategy is in place, you have a view of the system for which you you want to innovate.
Trying to skip past this important step is similar to embarking on a journey without a selecting a destination or knowing the terrain. You’ll be moving, but you’ll be unlikely to get to your end goal anytime soon.
To do what’s best for you business, take a moment, or more likely several, to visualize, develop, then internalize your Human-Centered business. Then, take a few more moments to plan your way to reaching this intention.
With your human-centered system mapped out, you can much more easily select the tools, or methods, that are best for your organization’s unique journey towards Systemic Innovation.
You can also be sure you’re on the correct path in the first place. Knowing where you’re going, and how you’ll get there has that effect.
* Featured Photo by Ray Fragapane
- Retrieved from – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_thinking
- Retrieved from – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human-centered_design
- Retrieved from – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experience_design
- Retrieved from – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_architecture