Everyone is looking for a guaranteed process for innovation. Today, creative thinking is being taught everywhere from elite business schools to marketing workshops. The problem is this:
There is no guaranteed process for innovation.
Of course, there are tips and steps that can generate ideas, but it’s the spaces in between where the interesting things can happen. The key issue is that any rigid methodology leaves out creative connections and happy accidents. The designer’s search for the ultimate solution is what opens the door for creative epiphanies. In the business world, everyone is looking for a 5 step process to innovative thinking. As designers, we know that the creative journey is never a sure thing. Those of us schooled in design, trust the process and know that it works, albeit sometimes scary.
The new commodification of the design process extends beyond corporations. Big design firms have been overrun by brand strategists, who justify every creative move with a statistic. The real pros know that the design process needs to influence the strategic process and vice versa. As one of my colleagues, brand strategist Alan Brew, said, “I spend most of my life post-rationalizing great design.” This does not mean that Alan does not go through the proper due diligence in developing a strategy. It means that he values the creative process of design as a means to inform the strategy. Designers need to help drive the process, otherwise you end up with an “off-the-rack mentality” that leads to the same predictable solutions.
There is a great quote about the design process in a book The Universal Traveler, by Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall. It goes, “You can climb a tree, and walk out on the limb but you will never learn to fly, unless you jump.”