How Scalable is Your Human-Centered Innovation Strategy?


By Greg Heist, Chief Innovation Officer, Gongos, Inc. 

The adage “if you build it, they will come” is an outdated relic in the world of business. Yet, with the rise of human-centered design, design thinking, and similar frameworks that preach a focus on user needs to guide innovation and solutions, many organizations are struggling to truly operationalize it as a day-to-day practice.

Although powerful, these new approaches are increasingly difficult to embrace as organizations continue to up the ante in a consumer-demanding world. Of course, this is compounded by the pressures corporations face as they also seek to meet Wall Street’s quarterly financial targets. These pressures can lead organizations to pursue internally generated ideas and initiatives that may not move the needle with consumers. The result? A human-centered design process that can quickly lose sight of its true north: the human.

Keys to success at the organizational level:

As we’ve discussed, there are always challenges to organizations that embrace a new philosophy like human-centered design. That said, below are several recommendations to ensure your organization’s HCD initiatives remain anchored in the needs of the human beings they are intended to serve:

  1. Embrace human-centered design as your SOP. To truly succeed, organizations can’t think about HCD as a point-in-time solution. In reality, it’s less a “tool” and more of a mindset that the entire organization must embrace. It should become your standard operating procedure rather than the “flavor of the month.” Anchoring your mindset in the belief that the customer needs to be the genesis and beneficiary of any initiative is crucial. That said, embracing a human-centered mindset doesn’t mean throwing out your existing development processes. Instead, find ways to weave mindset and process together to satisfy both executives and customers.

Driving Change at the Individual Level

While these steps are effective guidelines for the organization overall, truly seeding a human-centered mindset requires change at the individual level. Find ways to create individual and team experiences that encompass the following dimensions:

To truly scale an organization’s innovation efforts, leaders must be masters of orchestrating change at both the macro and micro level. When they work in harmony, the organization will not only be in sync with consumers but will find itself on an innovation path that creates sustained value and drives meaningful growth.

As published in Disruptor League.