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Incremental Innovation using Design Thinking

Incremental Innovation using Design Thinking
May 22, 2017

A glance at the current economic scenario where some enterprises are leading the market and several are fading away reminds me of the famous quote –

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” by Steve Jobs.

Most of us have witnessed the era where Nokia was the mobile phone market leader after being swiftly supplanted by Apple. Apple’s ‘innovation in work’ culture has written its own success story.

As per the Consumer Technology Association data published in August 2014, the average life expectancy of most tech products was less than 6 years. Today, this number has gone down further. It is almost evident that innovation keeps the businesses up and running despite challenges.  But the bigger question is – “How to keep innovating something new which is also relevant?” Ideapreneurs at HCL have formulated a solution based on the design thinking principle to address this question for our customers. 

Estimated Life Expectancy of Tech Product Categories

Consumer Technology

Data was obtained from the Consumer Technology Association’s (formerly Consumer Electronics Association) study in August 2014 on the estimated longevity of technologies before becoming outdated or failing to work. In the study, a sample of 1,013 adults were surveyed.

Source: CEA CE Product Life Cycle Case Study (August 2014).


At HCL Ideapreneurs have created an iterative process for clients based on design thinking

At its core, the Discover-Design-Do process follows all the five tenets of the design thinking process– empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Also, it focusses on a human centered approach to problem solving. This design thinking approach offers an incrementally innovated solution to the user’s problem.


In the ‘discover’ phase, Ideapreneurs uncover insights based on the user’s needs. The design thinking innovation process starts with gaining user empathy. We ask open ended questions to our users and leverage context map, business canvas, visual analogy, and current-future barriers as tools to discover the underlying problem. The problem unearthed, gets documented for reference at a later point.


In the ‘design’ phase, Ideapreneurs try to architect a solution to address the problem using design thinking principles. After defining the problem, industry swap, scamper, constraints toggle, problem framing, customer journey map and user value chain analysis techniques are used to reframe the problem with a human perspective. Then comes idea generation and prioritization. It is important to keep in mind that not all ideas are good ideas. Before progressing to the next phase, it is always important to prioritize the best idea to move on.


In the ‘do’ phase, Ideapreneurs engineer a prototype based on the prioritized idea. The tools and techniques used in this phase are 2x2 matrix, action plan, magazine cover, visual analogy, prototyping, and role playing.

The designed prototypes are given to the end users for feedback. Gathering the user’s feedback is crucial to the entire design thinking process as it gives another opportunity to connect the missed links. The user’s interaction with the prototype may produce new challenges in the design process and allow us to discover the undiscovered. The user centered approach enables us to navigate in the right direction towards design thinking innovation. Additionally, the continual feedback brings a sense of involvement with the users. The iterative approach helps improve the design significantly, resulting in ‘Incremental Innovation’.

The world is witnessing changes at an unprecedented pace, with new challenges arising every day. In this competitive environment, Ideapreneurs at HCL are building technologically feasible and economically viable innovative solutions based on design thinking principles using Discover-Design-Do, where users take center stage.

"Innovation is the only way to win" - Steve Jobs