Product and business innovation are integral to corporate growth. Insights into improving the design and development process can help achieve better innovation outcomes. We report the findings of a study of design firms—including IDEO and Continuum—that are recognized as standard bearers for innovation. We found that these firms use special approaches to innovation that include team structure, governance, and milestone planning processes. We synthesize the findings into five lessons for the R&D manager: apply user-centered design, define the innovation opportunity space strategically, use agile prototyping, establish communities of practice, and avoid rigorously gated management processes. We offer strategies for implementing these lessons in the R&D organization.
Volume 53, Issue 5, September-October 2010