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May 7, 2019

Q2 Executive Advantage Series | 3 Elements of Design Thinking & Creativity

A Road Map for Innovation: 3 Elements of Design Thinking

In the second quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, Jon Cook, Global CEO of VMLY&R, shared a key element to the advertising agency’s record of success and innovation, design thinking. The concept of design thinking transcends the advertising world and has broader applications wherever there are people delivering products, services, and experiences. Jon distilled the complex philosophy down to a method that is both repeatable and unrestricting.

Jon distilled design thinking down to three basic elements: perspective, exploration and solution.

1. Perspective

There is no single correct perspective, but beware of limiting your focus to a single overriding principle. Jon used the example of efficiency, which can lead to a culture of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This kind of environment stifles innovation and is unlikely to produce products or experiences that exceed expectations.

2. Exploration

Exploration could also be called the research phase. Jon warns against getting caught up in competitor research, although it can be a necessary evil at times. Focusing on competitors limits your research to your own industry, full of people answering the same questions as you with the same basic tools and strategies. Instead, try looking to thought leaders, successful campaigns across all industries, and universal everyday experiences.

3. Solution

When design thinking is used successfully, the solution will do more than answer the immediate question. The solution will change the question. For example, design thinking led VMLY&R to stop asking how to influence their audience to engage with their ads and start asking if ads were the best way to reach their audience. This simple shift led to the social phenomenon that engaged Wendy’s core audience of 18-24 year old men by live streaming a Wendy’s character playing their favorite video game. Click here to learn more about Wendy’s Story.

Jon also cautioned that there is no step-by-step approach to design thinking. The path from perspective to solution is not a linear one, but circular and continuous. By focusing on reframing the question, we can begin to reshape how innovative solutions can effectively address the needs of consumers.

To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com.


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