Big Ideas

Extreme Makeover is an unlikely place to look for useful insights into corporate innovation. Even the fat, awkward, and, let’s face it, hideous bubble-era companies were not going to improve their questionable bottom lines with a nose job, liposuction, and tummy-tuck. In spite of that, the show can offer some useful lessons when trying to understand the dynamics of innovation.

I recently started a new job. The group I manage is new and all the people on my team have recently been transferred into this group. Additionally, each person has spent a lot of time in the recent past working on individual, solitary projects, and has not regularly been part of a collaborative team.

The efforts to define our field and our role are understandable by-products of our economic times and of forces in our contexts of practice. What are the pressures behind this quest for definition? What are the options (and potential advantages) of refusing to pigeonhole ourselves?

When resources are limited, the design must be optimized to make the best use of all resources. To account for this complexity, it is important to have a clear understanding of both sides of the design equation—what you have to work with and what you are trying to build.

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