I'm LukeW (Luke Wroblewski)
Currently Principal Designer at Yahoo!, author of Site Seeing and Functioning Form, and design consultant through LukeW Interface Designs
I create Web experiences and have designed new products for many heavy hitters and small companies. I'm one of those "do it all" designers: visual design, information architecture, interaction design, Web programming, etc. My experiences with innovation are best articulated by those wiser than myself. As such I quote Jim Leftwich:
"I have always believed in the speed, breadth of integrative power, and just sheer purity that a single strong design lead can bring to a problem. I'd qualify that further in saying that similarly strong leads in all the necessary aspects of product or system development (that understand the value of the others - i.e.: engineering, business, etc.) is even more powerful, but in my long career, fairly rare. What separates truly extraordinary and transcendent products or systems from the merely adequate (I won't even talk about poor efforts) is vision. Until such time that the communication and coordination between *separate minds* can reach the speed and integration of neurons within a single mind with vision and experience, the latter will always be capable of creating and *inspired* solution.
The higher up the food chain this capability and leadership resides (or is consulting into), the greater the likelihood of an inspired and elegant solution. Now this doesn't by any means insure larger business success, because there are many extenuating and complex forces at play in the product world. It also doesn't imply that such a leader is always *right*, but in the long term, and especially when it comes to significant or revolutionary *innovation* (as opposed to the overwhelming majority of development that is merely "me too" or evolutionary feature creep), a design leader with vision will very often drive a product or system to greater and more successful heights."