Design innovation challenge... who would you recommend?

A ping for work recently crossed my desk that was out of my scope, and I had to think for a couple days on where to send the company. I passed them along to a colleague who’s perfect, but I thought it might make good discussion fodder.

IDEO was an obvious option, but who else do you think would successfully complete this kind of project, and why?

There is a whole category of consultants in this area, and they rarely overlap with design organizations (IDEO being an exception.)

Here’s the knowledge base:

Notable consultants:

Thanks CG… that is exactly the kind of companies I was wondering about ( that NPDP is the certification you had shared on the forum a while back, right? )

What would you call that type of consultant as well, innovation management?

Yes, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing within my company for the past few years. There are components of process management and improvement that are included. The individual should have knowledge of other NPD processes such as Stage-Gate, Lean Sigma, etc. A strong understanding of qualitative and quantitative metrics are important as well. The most challenging thing I’ve found so far is integrating the innovation/design methodology of discovery into the value stream of the company. I have my innovation process dovetailed into a stage-gate process which you can apply throughout the enteprise and not just product based applications.

I’m a member of PDMA and find most of their lecture series useful. I’ve gone to a few other sessions and was not very impressed with their NPDP certification. There’s alot of “snake-oil” consultants out there, especiallly in this area. So the company should be really selective on who they choose.

Interesting thread. Another group not listed here, that we have used in the past is Doblin.

The “ten types of innovation” graph really worked for our company.

thats interesting to me that your company has used this kind of consultant before. It makes sense that a company would be interested in this kind of thing, but it is different than the concrete design/engineer/produce that designers are used to

Slippy, anything you could share about what Doblin was called in for and what they did for you company?

I can share only what is somewhat public knowledge of their approach.

In summary, Doblin tries to tell companies that investing in new product development, R&D, high-end engineering etc (like what we’ve always done) is just one way of making $. Not just that, but the expenditure on R&D (or Product Performance) makes it hard to realize ROI, as lots of people want to play in that area, e.g. “let’s make a new widget and people will want to buy it”.

Their “10 innovation types” metric puts Product Performance as only one area to potentially focus on, within a family of three other areas grouped as ‘Offering’. The other three groups are Finance, Process, and Delivery. The whole list:

Business Model - How you make money.
Networks and Alliances - How you join forces with other companies for mutual benefit
Enabling Processes - How you support the company’s core processes and workers
Core Processes - How you create and add value to your offerings
Product Performance - How you design your core offerings
Product System - How you link and/or provide a platform for multiple projects
Service - How you provide value to customers and consumers beyond and around your products
Channel - How you get your offerings to market
How You Brand - How you communicate your offerings
Customer Experience - How your customers feel when they interact with your company and its offerings

Their expertise is identifying where opportunities to expand may exist, and the relative futility of expecting continued investment in making better widgets to result in dramatically increased revenue. Some examples they like to use are FedEx for process, or Martha Stewart Living for Channel.