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Ideation Podcast is an on-the-go podcast designed to help you move your ideas forward through better implementation. In each episode, you’ll hear from thought leaders in multiple industries share about how they implement their ideas in order to make them remarkable (i.e., worth making a remark about).


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Nov 17, 2016

In this episode of the Ideation Podcast, innovation consultant Vijay Kumar discusses how organizations and individuals can apply design thinking when developing creative solutions to problems. Here are the show notes from this episode:

How to Overcome the Obstacles of Executing Human-Centered Design 

Avoid Blind Spots

Organizations must be careful not to develop narrowed-thinking when creating innovations to solve problems.

Building Innovations for People

Rather than focusing on the problem, innovators should have a clear understanding of the end user.

Practice Empathy

Innovators have a high level of empathy in order to understand how and why a customer will use a product or service. Develop a clear understanding of the end user and avoid making decisions based on assumptions.

Think of Innovation’s Environment  

Take a step back and ask who will use the product or service and in what context. Understanding the entire context and environment in which a product or service exists is key to developing a successful innovation.

Breeding a Culture of Innovation at Your Workplace

“Cultivating an innovative culture is the most difficult challenge any organization faces and the biggest challenge to being successful in your innovation.” says Kumar.

Empower the Individual

Empowering individuals to be champions of innovative actions will help organizations succeed as a whole. Kumar uses Proctor and Gamble as one example of a company that embodies empowerment.

Make Innovation a Team Effort

Organizations should practice teamwork and approach innovative thinking as a collaborative effort. Try making your project a multidisciplinary effort, connecting individuals across departments. Innovation is often sparked when seemingly unrelated ideas intersect.

Integrate Processes

Because individuals have unique processes to approaching an issue, it is important  to develop a process that all members can agree to. Collaborative discussions that facilitate open mindedness can help companies integrate individuals into a cohesive team.

Measuring Success - 10 Types of Innovation

Kumar says that there is no single measure to an organization’s success. Organizations should review and measure innovations based on qualitative data rather than just focusing on quantitative measurements. Using the 10 types of innovations as a framework, organizations can map how successful the company has been in each area of innovation.

Resources for Further Discovery

The Design of Business by Roger Martin

The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley

Claudia Kotchka

101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.


Vijay Kumar is a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design in Chicago. He is an innovation consultant, coach, and adviser to global organizations for the use of structured methods for conceiving reliable human-centered innovations and turning them into strategic plans for organizations. Kumar has dedicated his entire career to the study of strategic design planning and methods. His interest in design thinking was sparked by interactions with famous American designers Charles and Ray Earn. While attending design school in India, Kumar was fascinated by the way the designers approached innovation, realizing how the human mind makes connections for creatively solving complex problems.  Kumar has consulted to global organizations such as Autodesk, McDonald’s, Motorola, Pfizer, P&G, SC Johnson, Shell, Steelcase, T-Mobile, Target, Texas Instruments, and Zurich Financials among others. Kumar is the author of the book, “101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.”  He is an Honorary Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council