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What the Research Shows

Welcome back Humantific readers. Happy to say spring is well underway here in New York City! This week a short post on an odd bubbling-up topic. We have had several readers write to us pointing out that there seems to be some confusion on several LinkedIn threads around a claim being made, as part of a social media campaign, that historical and contemporary innovation process models wrongly begin with ideation. Since we wrote a book on the subject, happy to share what we found in the years of research that went into Innovation Methods Mapping.

When we looked across 80+ years and multiple communities of practice which included design reviews of 60+ processes spanning from 1926 to 2014 what was found was that very few begin with ideation.

As early as the Wallas Creativity Process which appearred in 1926 thru to the early Osborn-Parnes CPS models, thru to Appreciative Inquiry, Checkland’s Soft Systems Methodology, MG Taylor, Rittel, Fuller, Archer, Triz, Creative Education Foundation CPS, Engine, d-School, Puccio Murdock Mance CPS, Basadur, UK Double Diamond, Evenson-Dubberly, Humantific, Frog, IIT, none begin with solution ideation.

Anyone looking at the process models in the book would see the vast majority, 59 out of the 63 processes in the survey spanning 80+ years do not begin with ideation. Any suggestion that up front ideation is an alarming trend deeply embedded in innovation process history and therefore needs immediate intervention and repair is simply incorrect...To put it politely, a made-up, phantom argument, a fake crisis, a false narrative, or if you prefer the term: a red herring.

Its no secret that there are all kinds of creative marketing campaigns around online. Some add to the evolution of innovation methods as a subject in motion, while others are simple distractions. Whether they make any sense or not, some social media-driven campaigns appearing today can be extremely forceful. The distractions do tend to confuse newly arriving incoming readers to the subject of innovation.

We all stand on the shoulders of many who have already contributed to process evolution knowledge and this is certainly recognized and made clear in the book.

None of the major processes including CPS, perhaps the most influential, begin with solution ideation and that has been known for decades. As far as we know, none of the major design or innovation consultancies go to market with processes that begin with ideation.

One might wonder why anyone would try to make such an uninformed case? Does the innovation consulting community have its own version of social media driven fake news? You decide.

Always good to have a sense of humor in this business.

Hope this is helpful.

Book 2

We happen to be working on Book 2 of Innovation Methods Mapping focused on Design for Complexity so this might be a good moment to mention that we are looking for contemporary process examples geared to complexities beyond product, service, experience creation. We hope to include 10-20 examples in Book 2.

Feel free to send us your Book 2 process suggestions.

In addition, we continue to gather historical innovation method examples, some of which we post in the Lab portion of the book 1 site.

Happy spring everyone!


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