NOTE: The slides included here are a part of a longer presentation available at SlideShare.

One of my recent clients was a large, multinational enterprise looking to integrate design thinking into their innovation model. During the course of our engagement, it became clear that their current model wouldn’t readily accept the adaptability of design thinking without a lot of reverse engineering.

Let’s stop here for a minute: this is an important note. The model - the process through which ideas move - is only one part of a mature innovation system. As with any good project, there are other, symbiotic elements that must be developed alongside the model itself.

In the case of “mature innovation,” this should include complimentary thinking around strategy, information, and culture. Without taking all four of these into account, an innovation system will become stale and difficult to adapt: precisely the opposite of what it is meant to achieve.

Rather than shoe-horn an examination of all four parts into a single post, I’m focusing here solely on the model itself, how “innovation models” have evolved over time, and why hybrid models are the only appropriate choice for enterprises today.

Looking back on the past, we can see a clear progression from the most original of models: cause an effect. “When I do A, B will happen.” Tests, repeat, and verify. While that most basic of experimental principles underlies much of the design strategy work done today, models have been extended so they can consider the inputs, outputs, and outcomes each intends to generate.

As is typical with innovation systems that are created ad hoc, my client’s system had vestigial elements of prior “innovation thinking” that had persisted. Generally, this might take the form of arbitrary timelines (“We must complete phase X, in Y months."), or in the linearity of the model, or in many other places. Regardless of how it manifests, these elements lead to friction in the system, and a myopic perspective of the breadth of opportunities available.

The hybrid model proposed here attempts to be inclusive in terms of inputs, outputs, and outcomes appropriate for a modern enterprise with an interest in broad opportunity engagement. The Optimized Hybrid Innovation (or O HI!) Model is also meant to be adaptable to the individual enterprise utilizing it.

Throughout the different stages of the model, there are briefs to capture new opportunities discovered along the way. There are design thinking, service design, and validation opportunities. There are options to engage customers, both internal and external, both in sourcing and collaborating.

Beyond this level, many of the “briefs’ mentioned herein will need to be customized to each organization, and ideally developed collaboratively. The methods used to engage the organization, clients, and end users will need to be determined for the desired outputs and outcomes.

This is a great place to start, and with a thoughtful approach, this model can be used to help any organization be successful, whether they’re rethinking their current innovation model, or attempting their first iteration. If your organization is looking for a new way to think about innovation, get in touch