Recently (last week, I think) I had a revelation...I want to work for IDEO! Okay, okay, I know that about a bazillion people feel this same way and only a handful ever make it. I know that they are, perhaps, the premiere design firm in the world. I also know that I am very much aligned with the way they do things. They rely heavily on working as a team, have a strong focus on socially and environmentally conscious design, and it seems like they like to have fun, too.
That being said, I have been doing a little research on IDEO lately and came across this:
"Over the past 17 years, IDEO has expanded its size and scope with the integration of such disciplines as human factors, business thinking, and organizational design, to service an increasing number of organizations seeking to grow and innovate through design. As a result, IDEO's practices have shifted from a methodology of innovation to an underlying culture of innovation to an overarching mental orientation that goes by the name of "design thinking" - perhaps aptly described as an inclination to see every problem as a design challenge."
What can we get from that? Well, the first thing that pops out to me is the idea that innovation comes as a result of design thinking. If IDEO has shifted from an underlying culture of innovation to an overarching mental orientation of design thinking, I am sure they did not just leave innovation behind.
That being said, innovation, to me, is all about unique and relevant ideas. A product does not need to be 100% new to be innovative; it could just be a different combination of existing ideas or technologies. I also think that innovation fades. What is innovative now will most definitely not be innovative twenty years from now. Design thinking is a process of recognizing problems and then building strategies and solutions, with an emphasis on the recognizing of problems (or, perhaps they would be more aptly named "opportunities.")