12. Nov. 2019
Norbert Bader
2 minute read

Innovation Methodologies - Stop Thinking & Start Doing - Part 1 of 2

The number of innovation methods has exploded in recent years and continues to grow monthly. We discuss some of them in our article.

Every strategy consultancy is working hard to position its own methodology as the dominant one on the market. We at Unymira rely on proven methods. And we adapt them to the individual circumstances and needs of our customers during the course of a project. Every good innovation framework offers this flexibility. That kind of individual customer and situation-related flexibility is actually inherent to the leading methods and an indicator of the quality of the consultants.

Nevertheless, the question arises which innovation methodology should be used for which phase in an innovation process.

Everyone who has completed a Design Sprint knows about the creative power and the broad results in number of innovation ideas that stem from it. However, is Design Thinking also the right method when it comes to establishing a new platform? To build a new digital ecosystem with a network of partners and suppliers? Or to accelerate the development of a product system?

In any case, every innovation requires a systematic approach as well as a decision as to which method to use and why. This requires broad methodological competence.

To keep the answer as short and simple as possible this article will focus on Design Thinking, the Lean Start up and Agile methods of development.
 You will find a complete list of my top 10 preferred methodologies at the end of the article.


Let´s start with a definition

Let´s start with the question how we define the buzzword “Innovation”. Our definition of business innovation:

The systematic creation of a viable and new solution  that satisfies customer needs.

This definition includes the essentials of the Innovation Sweet Spot and it makes THE difference for wild, fun and even failing ideas. The combination of systematic creation, viability and novelty provides the basis for sustainable disruptive innovations that can change the game in an industry.


Innovation Sweet Spot

Innovation Sweet Spot


Which innovation method in which phase?

Three basic phases can be distinguished in innovation management.

  • 1st Problem Space-Value Creation
  • 2nd Solution Space -Value Solution
  • 3rd Solution Space - Value Production

 Innovation Process

The image above classifies the methods in phases and helps to structure them. It is important that all methods are not used dogmatically one after the other, but ideally are used in the other phases, too.


1. Problem Space-Value Creation via Design Thinking

In this early and first phase, (almost) every innovation method focuses on understanding the user's problem space, then concretely identifying and defining the problem and then developing solution ideas using creative methods. The ideas are validated as quickly as possible via user feedback and tests.


A "Best Practice" method for this early phase is Design Thinking.

The core benefit of Design Thinking lies in

  • identifying user needs
  • understanding the problem context
  • and being open to a wide variety of solution ideas.

Thus, Design Thinking is ideal for generating a wide range of ideas. Its benefits include:

  • Makes ideas tangible and comprehensible
  • Fast and agile
  • Open
  • Iterative
  • Early testing, failing and continuous improvement.


Overview Design Thinking Process

Overview Design Thinking

For example, think of autonomous driving and the "simple" question: "How can we make traffic easier and more efficient for commuters during rush hour".

There are numerous aspects and questions that need to be addressed in order to understand the topic:

The focus is on

  • Understanding user needs and behavior and pain points while driving and parking
  • Analyzing
    • traffic data
    • demographic data
  • Organizational, technical, legal, urban planning and technological stakeholders and drivers.

After grasping the context broadly and build up empathy with the users you will condense the problem space again in a very specific "Problem Statement".

So far all about Design Thinking. But there is more to come with Lean Startup and agile Development. You will find a short definition and more in part two of our series.