Design is often associated with aesthetics: how something looks. Although important on one level, it captures a small portion of design. Good design relates and provides value to anyone who interacts with it. This is the bar to which we hold students in the Innovation Lab.
Innovation is the ability to identify relevant and often unobvious problems and then develop solutions that (1) resonate with people, (2) are technically feasible and (3) generate adoption are business feasible.
Our students reach these goals by learning to develop perspective through unique lenses:
Design is a way of thinking—a method of distilling something down to its essence in order to remake it as simple as it should be. Good design intentionally relates to its context and responds to all potential points of view.
The people lens is the most important and is concerned with finding what drives and motivates people to do what they do and make the decisions they make.
The technology lens exists to help determine what is available and feasible. This doesn’t just refer to “high tech” but the tools and materials students have available to build their solutions, perhaps satellite technology, a digital platform or maybe a manufacturing process that needs to be utilized. As students get into the ideation and solution stages, the technology lens becomes more critical as it helps to determine what can immediately be done, what development still needs to be completed and when to complete the following subsequent steps.
Ultimately, we want to build solutions not just for us but for others. In order to be successful, people need to adopt or purchase the product. As innovators research and develop solutions, accessibility, distribution and/or price need to be considered. It’s important that a solution resonates with people and is affordable and accessible enough to be widely adopted.