I remember watching the TV transmission of the 1999 BAFTA Awards Ceremony because of one acceptance speech. It was from Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Managing Partners of “Working Title” receiving the award for “Talking Heads”.
They said " Success comes from a lot of innovative offerings......it comes from an idea and a lot of people who gathered round that idea and turned it into what you see on screen......”.
The programmes were much talked about at the time and are still used as a criterion to judge other works or to categorise new programmes that are in the pipeline.
Yet if we look at the efforts of organisations to adopt Funnels and stage-gate processes to bring a much-needed discipline to their innovation activities the very same frameworks can be blamed for driving out the very creativity that is needed for robust innovation.
Over the years Bill Buxton and I have had many a conversation about Research, Design, Innovation and Development in our entirely different industries. We had a "Meeting of Minds" about the innovation and design activities, realising that the process is the same but the emphasis is different. My background in Aeroengines meant that I was keen on simulation and visualisation of reality using the latest computers and software... when at an engine company it was part of the culture to ensure reliability, time between service, fuel burn (i.e less weight) on a product with production rate in the region of 30-50 per month. When in a large fast moving consumer goods company the payoff from simulation was packaging quality (big Q and small q) , cost (weight of packaging) on production runs of 10-60 million per factory. But visualisation was key to productive conversations in both places.
Bill Buxton (please read his book! Sketching User Experience ) suggested to me that I presented a talk on "Leading Innovation and Managing Design" which I think highlighted the difference between the leadership thinking required to create the culture for innovative activity.. turning insights into goods and services that customers crave for ... and design thinking which is concerned with managing the opportunity and matching the capabilities to the opportunity.
A few years ago I tried to design an overhead ( on a pre-PowerPoint application called Freelance which still had features that brought benefits to the creator unmatched today! some of my arrows were imported all those years ago!) that captured that approach. I will share that in a future blog! Here what I want to do is explore the way to change our approach to innovation through the "Design Story".
Why a design story? One enthusiastic team trying to create a reservoir of substantial projects observed:
At each step along the design journey there is an interaction between the story of how this new offer will positively affect the customer and the business allowing each to reach its potential and how the technology solution is delivering on that story. The tension between validity and viability is covered here.
We will return to story shortly.