Codifying Creativity

Bring Creativity back to the workplace

We all recognise the importance of creativity, but senior managers often struggle how to encourage it without the risk of widespread disruption. I've heard one executive say he'd like 99% of employees to focus on standardisation for quality and efficiency, where incremental improvements are only to be made within the constraints of site, region and global standards. He recommended keeping the "creatives" separate to focus on step change improvements and therefore compartmentalising the risk.

While I believe there are pros and cons to having dedicated semi-autonomous innovation teams, I believe creativity is a skill that should be nurtured across the entire enterprise, as its a skill that will help with problem solving irrespective of the challenge. Be it the shop floor to the executive suite.

Design Thinking can bring enterprise creativity to the next level.

Creativity can be nurtured, it's not only nature

Design Led Innovation

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

When design principles are applied to strategy and innovation, the success rate for innovation dramatically improves. Design thinking principles act to catalyse the innovation process, and God is in the detailed questions that it stimulates. Design thinking will benefit anyone solving a problem and is not limited to “designers”, so let's bring creativity more into the workplace, and think beyond crisis mode.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a methodology to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for customers. Its balanced assessment of the financial viability, technical feasibility and stakeholder desirability helps creates a much more engaging user experience.

Design thinking model from IDEO.

Credit Tim Brown’s “Change by Design”

Design Thinking is whole brain thinking, it compliments the expected approach of using facts, data and logic, with imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes for the customer. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused, and action oriented. It's a process for matching need to demand, constraint to possibility, necessity to functionality. It's human centric, comfortable with change, promotes empathy and is not limited to so called creative industries. Its suited to abstract multifaceted problems as well as product design.

Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation & Creativity

Many years ago I had an eureka moment having read Tim Brown’s book “Change by Design”,  I realised the principles and philosophy of design thinking and “The Lean Start Up” (Eric Ries) were exactly what was needed to manage the innovation process in the organisation I was working in, to dramatically improve the success rate. I effectively codified creativity with a process that was expansive and reductive, and forced participants to seek diverse insights before ideating.

Explicit or not, design thinking is at the core of effective strategy development and organizational change. We redesigned our capabilities and successfully used this approach to develop strategies on products (enhanced lifecycle), services (augmented product offerings), processes (supply chain improvements), design of places (creative collaborative environment, lean manufacturing), basically anything that involves human interaction and needs to be improved. It helped to knock "innovation" off its pedestal, to de-risk the process and the framework gave team confidence in tackling the most difficult problems, be it how they lead, manage, create and deliver.

Design to value process, combining design thinking, creative behaviours and lean startup principles

Proving that innovation is a discipline that can be managed, and with a focus on mindsets, that creativity can be nurtured. (Credit: IDEO, Sticky Wisdom, ?WhatIF!)

You can approach the practice of innovation (creating new products, services, and customer experiences) with a set of practical and rigorous methods, tools, and frameworks. Design to Value brings together the best of these benchmarked tools, methods and creative mindsets.

Develop Design Thinking capabilities in your organisation

Non-designers can learn to think like a designer, and apply these skills to leadership and innovation. It works across the entire spectrum of innovation, from the incremental to the disruptive. The cultural and performance benefits are tremendous, as it provides a common structured approach to problem solving, a common language and a set of behavioural rules that help ensure the wheels don’t fall off.

  • Learn and Develop a structured approach to innovation.  Optimising your ability to innovate. Learn about each phase, such as problem scoping, insight gathering, ideation, critical thinking, rapid-prototyping, collaboration/co-design and implementation.
  • Appreciate the ecosystem that is necessary to encourage innovation (top down as well as bottom up).
  • Examine the creative behaviours necessary to navigate the innovation process smoothly, this is the oil that keeps the improvements engine running.
  • Learn how to connect more deeply with customers to uncover their latent needs and opportunities for innovation.
  • Transform insights and data into actionable ideas - creating an insight journey that maps from insight to idea.
  • Explore the tool-sets and skill-sets used by designers: empathy for your customers, design for cost/quality/value/manufacturability, value engineering, reverse engineering etc. As well as sources of inspiration, best of benchmarking and revolution.
  • Develop a wide variety of concepts for products, services, experiences, channels, business models, and strategies.
  • Create and deliver elegant solutions that delight your customer, faster and more effectively.

Paul McAleese has facilitated design-thinking strategies for innovation for pharmaceutical and FMCG companies across a range of strategic areas: R&D, manufacturing supply chain, procurement, packaging, product development & augmented services, as well as marketing. All involved collaborating and co-designing solutions with a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders (government bodies, customers, patients, healthcare professionals). He and the Design To Value team are ready to support you on your design thinking journey.

Find out how design thinking support, training, or workshops can help you achieve innovation success. Contact us at