Business, Innovative Design & Entrepreneurship

This first lesson is focused on businesses and how radical innovation is a key element to survive and thrive in the current and also future markets. Many leading organizations have realized the potential of the changing markets and also the emergent of new markets and therefore have capitalized the benefits of innovative thinking and concepts of designing for the future.

IDEO is a good example of combining innovative design thinking with organizations so that they can remain competitive and continue to grow. “We help organizations build creative culture and the internal systems required to sustain innovation and launch new ventures”.  IDEO has recognized that the users or the consumers are at the heart of this process; they are the end users and therefore have the best knowledge of their needs and wants. In the contemporary business environment human centered design seems to be becoming more and more prevalent and moving further away from traditional views of who constitutes as a designer, or in a business context, who calls the shots as to which services and products the consumer needs. As Charles Leadbeater discusses, it is difficult to find big ideas in mainstream markets in large organizations and that the ideas are actually coming from consumers who are often ahead of the producers. He uses the mountain bike as an example to highlight this notion where a group of young users developed a new product because they had a vision, the motivation and incentive to innovate an existing commodity. Everyone has the ability to be innovative, but in the business environment, incremental innovation or small changes do not really have a massive impact on the business or the market. It is radical developments that businesses should be aiming to employ if they want to see a change in the market and this is where entrepreneurs step into the scenario.

Entrepreneurs are thinking big ideas, meaningful ones that not only change the market but also have the potential to create new ones and change the world through lifestyle, well being, education and dealing with deeper issues such as poverty and scarcity surrounding limited resources such as oil and water etc. Guy Kawasaki talks about changing the world by creating meaning and you can do this through increasing the quality of life, making people more creative, righting a wrong or preventing the end of something good.

An example I have researched and find interesting is the creation and continual growth of Facebook. At Facebook’s f8 Conference in September, founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that half-a-billion people had accessed the service in a single day[1]. But is Facebook innovative? It certainly was not the first social network. Before it, there was Myspace, Friendster and Bebo. So Facebook is not an original idea was still able to overtake all its competitors and become the giant in the market? It is very interesting to note that execution and timing played a major factor in the startup of Facebook. The world was ready for a global social network, but he (Mark Zuckerberg) had to ease them in gently[2]. And the key point to innovation is that Facebook is continually changing and evolving with new ways of interacting and communicating, the most recent being the introduction of ‘timeline’.

[1] Paul Sawyers. 2011. Is Facebook Innovative?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 June 12]

[2] ibid 2


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