Our Design Led Innovation client consulting or facilitation sessions often involves a business diagnostic activity, that is split into something I fondly call: hard and soft diagnostics.

A hard diagnostic, aptly called as it covers hard financial numbers, covers things like market share, revenue, profit, margins etc. This is a pretty meaty and tangible discussion, with a lot of great tools such as the Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder or the Lean Canvas by Ash Maurya to support the discussion.

On the other hand, our soft diagnostic activity tends to cover the softer more human elements of a business. This includes things such as values, culture, meaning, customer needs and motivation. Much of this actually falls within the realm of Design Thinking, and as far as I know, there is no tool for this.

So I created one.

Business Design Toolkit
Business Design Thinking
Click on the image for a full size version.

Business Design Toolkit User Guide

The Business Design Tool was inspired by the Startup Canvas created by our friends and partners the Design Thinkers Group. I co-facilitated a workshop on the Startup Canvas at the D.Confestival in Berlin last year, and adapted it from there. Check out the original updated Startup Canvas here. Looks like they liked our addition of the DNA and Persona modifications, and added it to their tool!

The BDT has been tested extensively on corporations both large and small, start-ups, non-profits and even government agencies (where it would be called the Organization Design Toolkit). So now please print it out as a big banner, (2+ meters wide), try it out with your clients or team, and then let me know what you think?

The Business Design Toolkit is one of the many tools we have developed to help businesses leverage on Design Driven Innovation to make their customer’s lives better. If you would like us to help you out, do not hesitate to drop us a message at our contact page.

I get this all the time.

Whenever we talk about Design Thinking’s user-centered approach to finding opportunities and understanding your customer better, someone always reminds me that one of the worlds most successful company (in my humble opinion), Apple, does not do market or user research.

Similarly, Scott Anthony writes:

It feels like a classic battle — the scientific approach of a company (Procter & Gamble when run by former CEO A.G. Lafley) that launches 80 market research studies a day versus the intuitive touch of the iconic innovator of our time.

But it’s a false comparison. Both approaches rest on the belief that you need to understand your customers better than they know themselves so you can predict what they want without having to ask them to articulate what they want.

Here is my usual answer to this: basically, what we are saying here is that there are 2 approaches to design.

The first one takes a user-centered approach to design. This is where Design Thinkers or Designers spend time in the field observing and researching humans for potential insights that can inspire and innovate. This sort of approach is ideal for organizations with large diverse portfolios and multiple types of customers. It is also a great activity to use on mature market services and products.

The second approach is what I like to call the customer proxy design approach. This is when there is someone who lives and breathes the product or service in such a totality that it becomes a lifestyle. He or she is then able to take it to the next level in an almost craft like manner all for the good of the consumer. This sort of approach lands really well for businesses developing a focused product range, or even a small niche player in a competitive market.

At the end of the day, it is all about that intuition or insights derived from knowing your customers better then they know themselves. But how you come up with these insight can be from either one of the two approaches. Personally, I prefer a combination of the two approaches simply because of my 4 golden rules of understanding humans:

1) People don’t know, what they don’t know. (To get it right, you’ll need to repeat this a few times while pausing deliberately at the comma!)

2) People don’t do what they say, or say what they do.

3) People know what they dislike, but often can’t articulate what they like.

4) People often can’t distinguish between their wants from needs, as well as why they need it in the first place.

So my 2 by 4 (2×4) approach to design led innovation basically revolves around using thought leadership and intuition for insights, and then iterating and validating with data.

What’s your approach?

Via: HBR

The following guest post is written by Maurice McGinley, a friend and former colleague at Philips Design. While some of the points might be a little outdated, this post showcases a methodology of Design Research and Design Led Innovation that is practiced in companies who aspire to be design leaders in their industry. I hope you enjoy the treat and also the process! Also don’t forget to click on the images for a larger view.


Television’s Secret Sauce

AppleTV, Google TV, Netflix, Ikea Uppleva… So why isn’t TV disrupted already? Where is TV going?

Longer term trends in human behavior can show us where TV is headed. Technology shapes Culture but Culture determines which technologies thrive; and culture changes more slowly than technology. An earlier post looked at television’s job to be done. This post looks at the Anthropology of Television.

The history of television use can be described in terms of four dimensions. These dimensions define the value space of television and we predict they will continue to drive its future evolution:

Availability of Content,
Convenience of Control,
– Sensorial Immersion, and
Social Engagement.


…anything, anytime


The availability of content in terms of:
– Extent (What)
– Location (Where)
– Time (When)
– Cost (How Much)

– Limitless choice
– Always accessible
– Immediate gratification
– All media
– Low cost

– Rental / Subscription access
– Time and place shifting
– Granularity of content
– Move to online digital media storage
– Apps provide new narrow yet deep access to specialized content.
– User generated content gets integrated with commercial content.


…as easy as breathing


– The ease of getting the right content for any situation.

– A satisfying sense of control
– No thought needed
– Navigation by recognition (not planned intention or forethought)
– Automatic, flexible content management

– Curated choices and recommendations.
– Metadata enables content discovery
– Control from 2nd Screen.
– Integrated ecosystems of products


… sweeps me away


– The extent, degree, and quality of sensory stimulation

– Sensual escapism
– Enjoyment and beauty
– Authentic and credible content rendering
– Fluid and natural control

– Increasing visual and motion quality rendering.
– More senses, more fully stimulated
– Psychology-based compression and reproduction technologies
– Integration of navigation controls with content
– Apps providing synchronised extensions to content on screen.


…how I express myself; how I find myself


– The social and cultural aspects of our relationship to media; shared viewing enhances the experience.

– Social currency – know what my peers are talking about.
– Discover content “gems” that suit me personally.
– Expression of my identity through my choices
– Pleasure and reassurance of being part of a group

– Strong links to pop culture and fashion
– Social curation
– Check-ins
– Playlist sharing
– Real-time sharing
– Tagging
– Live!

Hit this link for a A3 High Resolution .pdf suitable for printing.

Maurice McGinley works at AVG as a User Experience Architect. You can follow him on Google+, on Linkedin or on his awesome UX/UI research blog: “How I got my Kink“. This post has been reproduced with permission. Credit for the project goes to Philips Design.

rotting study 2

Since the recent keynote by Tim Cook (October 2012), there has been a media furor on how it is going to be the end of Apple, or that Apple after Jobs is dead.

I’m going to risk sounding like a Fanboy and say that this just nonsense and really a “heard” mentality going viral. What is more likely is that people and blogs are jumping on the media bandwagon for more eyeballs or mouse clicks. One prominent reviewer of the iPhone 5 even retracted his initial bored dislike and proclaimed the iPhone 5: “the best phone to ever grace the earth“. Which makes me wonder how can people review a product without even using it first? (Hence we rarely do product reviews here at Design Sojourn.)

My analysis of the iPhone 5 keynote and recent (iPad Mini, 13” Retina etc) product launch, signals that we are far from the “end of days” at Apple under Tim Cook. For sure there has been some management revamps to be sorted out, but I for one am bullish on Apple’s future.

Here is why.

We have a warped sense of how we define an “Innovative” product.

Here is basically how some of the most influential people online define Innovation.

Dan Crow at the Guardian UK said: “It [Apple] hasn’t introduced a truly new product since the launch of the iPad nearly three years ago; instead it’s making incremental and overhyped improvements to its current lines.”

Since when has Apple made anything “new”? The iPod was inspired by Creative’s Zen Mp3 Player, the iPhone was a mobile phone with a redesigned Xerox Parc’s touch screen interface, and the iPad is a tablet PC (ah la Fujitsu) with optimized hardware.

Furthermore, Apple has never been in the business of selling to early adopters. Apple sells to the early majority and the rest of the groups of consumers as described in the theory of Diffusion of Innovation.

Therefore Apple’s brand of Innovation is in taking matured technology, redesigning them, and packaging them into a proposition that consumers find easy and a joy to use. Packaging the technology so that people get it. This is also the reason why Apple products don’t compete on specifications, not do they contain the fastest CPU or biggest and brightest screen.

Technically, Apple has never been the leader in any form of technology nor products. There is nothing in their product line up you cannot fine an earlier alternative. But they have managed to find the right time to come in and spectacularly take over the market. For example how the iPod, the iPhone and iPad took over the world.

Apple is in the business of Incremental Products.

One of the big gripes of the new Apple line up was the surprise launch of the iPad 4 seven months after the launch of the iPad 3. The iPad 3 was Apple’s biggest selling iPad with 3 Million sold. This resulted in many people saying that Apple just officially pissed off 3 Million of their customers with the iPad 4.

I disagree. We have touched on this before in my previous post. Apple has to keep updating their products to keep up with the technology “Joneses”, but to their credit, they do not obsolete their old products by building an ecosystem where OS updates will work on both new and older devices.

Try updating your Samsung Galaxy S2 to Android’s new Jellybean? The Galaxy S2, at the time this article was published, has no official way of updating the software to the latest and greatest.

However what is really significant about this seven month product upgrade cycle, is that Apple can now beat the fast-followers and OEMs of this world at their own game. This, in my humble opinion, is a huge breakthrough that many pundits have missed. Especially when Apple does not technically own their factory and outsources all their manufacturing.

Think about it for a moment?

A fast follower strategy basically takes a winning product, makes the specifications 10-20% better or cheaper, and then gets it out very quick (on an average of 6-8 months). With this speed up in Apple’s development cycle, when a fast follower gets a product out, they are already obsolete as Apple not only has a the next one out, but a new model that is likely 100% better then their predecessor. (Apple claims that the iPad 4 is 2x faster than the iPad 3).

This heralds exciting times for Apple (thanks to supply chain maestro Tim Cook) and that we should expect more frequent product updates going forward, at least twice a year.

iPhone 5 and iPad Mini: It’s the iMac and MacBook all over Again.

Before we wrap up lets do a quick analysis of the two most significant Apple products of this year.

I don’t really expect any major innovation for the iPhone or the iPad range to come. Apple may be guilty of new product marketing overhype, but Apple’s innovations really only come at the start of the range, after that it is all incremental improvements (some larger, some smaller) through the years. If you look at how the iMac and the MacBooks have evolved, you can see what has happen with those ranges will eventually happen to the iPhone and iPad.

Click to zoom.

Step 1: Create an archetype changing or defining product.
Step 2: Improve it with technology and manufacturing processes.
Step 3: Milk the product for as long as possible.

It is also worthwhile to note that Apple runs on a Castle and Moat strategy.

Therefore the iPad mini is also a purely defensive play. Apple has obviously realized that they might have missed the ebook market, as the iPad’s size and weight is not the best for long term reading. With Amazon’s Kindle ecosystem doing very well, they needed to ensure that they have something in their range to keep their customers from leaving.

So what’s next?

Tim Cook at the recent D10 Conference interview shared a little about how Apple develops new products. The information may seem scarce, but if you are in the industry it says a lot. He said:

1) Can we control the key technology?

2) Can we make a significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area?

3) Can we make a product that we all want? (Cos we think we are reasonably good proxies for others.)

So if we consider these three points, and the analysis above on Apple’s brand of innovation, we can conclude two things:

1) Apple will not launch anything new if they do not think the timing is right or if it is not right for their customers.

2) To find out what’s next, all we have to do is look at technologies out there that are important but under-performing, and under-humanized.

So with this, my bets are on voice control (which Siri has not done as well) and Apple TV or a new TiVo type system.

As you can see, Apple isn’t doing anything different today than what they did in the past. If they are guilty of anything, it could be marketing overhype or launching too many new products this year.

Regardless, the road going forward is not going to be easy as Apple’s competitors are doing things a lot better. Fortunately, Apple has proven consistent in what they do and that proven recipe is going to help fight off the competition. They will still make mistakes and we, of course, will forgive them. And Apple employees that do not fit well, including Steve Jobs, leave and some do come back again.

I love to hear your thoughts on this analysis, so please do not hesitate to leave a comment below. Thanks!

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