Expert Insights on Design Thinking


Brainstorming and ideation need to be purposeful to affect change, otherwise you’re left with a wall of post-its and little else.

In an effort to help you move forward, we sought to share insights from Innovation and Design Thinking experts across our communities by hosting a forum for Innovation and Design Thinking leaders from Allegion, AT&T, American Greetings, Biogen, Bose, Cisco, Eastman, GE, IBM, Ralph Lauren, Salesforce, Stanley Black & Decker, Symmons, UnitedHealth Group, U.S. Department of State and more. This compilation of change agents offered candid insight around design successes and struggles, while speaking to innovation and design topics we are often asked by clients and prospective clients.

This paper “Design Thinking: Beyond the Post-it Notes” offers you a glimpse into the thoughtful conversations we had with our panelists on our “Innovation by Design” hangout series. We hope our panelists will help to further inspire you and your product innovation initiatives or innovation process.

Lisa Wascovich, Director of Digital Innovation at American Greetings shared that “failing fast is critical. Also having a budget and the right people will enable a company to be more innovative.” But who are the “right” people to have on your innovation team? She and Valerie Lancelle, Vice President of Innovation at U.S. Bank in the hangout “How to Create a Culture of Innovation” offered some characteristics:


Key Characteristics of Great Innovators and Design Thinkers

Passionate to communicate and understand internal needs and capturing/communicating the voice of the user

A great storyteller, with a brain wired to receive stories that create emotion, as these stories will be more impactful and memorable

An avid reader in a variety of areas to be better equipped to connect the dots for new ideas

Open-minded and willing to discuss and push to make things better,and allergic to accepting the status quo

A person who has “creative confidence”to operate a little differently, share new ideas openly and draw people in to make “we” activities to work together.

A bold personality, comfortable taking risks to get to the reward and outcomes.

Someone able to throw our weird ideas (kindly) and put themselves out there in the pursuit of something powerful.


They added that once you have the right people on your team, you need to focus on communication. Over-communicating is extremely important to the success of a growing culture of innovation.

The phrase “Design Thinking” can be a hindrance to acceptance, so don’t use that phrase if it’s not working at your company. Call it brainstorming instead, if need be. Design Thinking will also be more accepted when expectations are set upfront and offer (and deliver on) positive outcomes. Drive this point home with visuals. It matters. 

And in most hangouts, a common discussion around design thinking sounded much like this:

Any company’s first concern must be around finding ideas that are meaningful to pursue. And finding “meaningful ideas” means uncovering ideas that address the problem statement, meet your objectives and resonate with the target, but how to you get the best ideas?

To get the answer and for more of the lively dialog, check out the highlights and recorded hangouts by downloading our “Design Thinking: Beyond the Post-it Note” paper.

Gretchen Hoffman

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Gretchen Hoffman

VP Marketing