Innovation?, Design?, Why? How?

What is innovation?

Innovation – developing something new and useful for others – isn’t like other fields of inquiry, such as medicine or law, which require extensive and rigorous training to understand.

Everyone innovates. Countless organizations across the globe are learning how to better integrate innovation in their organization.

These skills can help you unlock the solutions to your own problems. Few organizations, however, have the space, time, or tools to learn how to implement these resources.

Good design is equitable.

When Thomas Jefferson was suggesting how education should be shaped in the United States, he offered a two-tier system that he described as follows:

“Of the boys thus sent in any one year, trial is to be made at the grammar schools.…By this means twenty of the best geniusses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed, at the public expence, so far as the grammar schools go.”

Countless disruptive offerings have made the world more unjust. To counteract this, we must make design more equitable by:

developing products, services, spaces, policies, and experiences that are inclusive,
including invisible and marginalized communities as a part of the design process,
and understanding and respecting the histories of communities who are impacted, and rendered invisible, by the innovation community.

Successful innovation depends on the community.

Many innovators exclude people at the margins of society.

In Botswana, many of the languages don’t have a reliable definition for ‘innovation’. in Setswana, many of the communities use the word ‘bonokopila’, which is closer to ‘excellence’, while a San community uses the word ‘sonkori’, which translates to ‘dreams.’

Linguists in the country hypothesize the reason for this to be “linguistic relativity”, where the structure of human language influences how an individual conceptualizes their world. In short, the words a community holds proxies what a community values. How can we ensure innovation is useful for a community if the concept is something not valued in their society?

It is the charge of designers to ensure the offerings they develop understanding, and serve, the cultures they intend to influence.

Innovation will evolve.

The problems we face as a community are legion.

We must change organizations, connections, products, services – even ourselves – to address them effectively.

As a field that sits on the boundary of today and tomorrow, it must constantly adapt to the changing world we’re a part of.

To be a part, designers must better understand the world,
remain flexible to how it changes,
and remain connected to stay atop of constantly adapting needs.

Interested in more? Let's start the journey.