Winning at Innovative Design

For managers, the challenge of implementing an innovation strategy requires guts, ambition, and a love of uncertainty. It requires forward thinking, a deep understanding of the user, and above all else an innovative design firm who will partner with you and put you outside of your comfort zones.

Like so many challenges in life, finding the right partner takes time and is never easy. When looking for the right innovative design partner, you need someone who challenges your way of thinking and is willing to be a collaborator in transforming your business.

So, what does it take when it comes to finding the right fit in an innovative strategic partner? Here’s what to look for:

Feel the Fit

Like so many partnerships, when you select your innovative design partner it should feel right. Now, I know what you’re thinking. That sounds like BS, but the truth is your emotional intelligence, your gut, is the first step in succeeding in this process. You want to make sure your innovative design partner fits with your team, both in terms of skills as well as culturally.

In our hangout “How to Build Your Innovation Provider Ecosystem”, Ralph Lauren, Symmons, and LPL Financial talked in-depth about what feels right in the innovative design partners they’ve used. They agreed that the key to the right fit was trust and comfort, which allows you the opportunity to be truly candid with each other.  After all, if you cannot be candid (or perhaps vulnerable) in a room together, how can you truly develop an innovative strategy that will transform your business?

Next, a deep understanding of your business and its needs are vital to move innovation forward in the right direction.  Ralph Lauren’s expert added, “The relationship is so critical when working with agencies. They need to understand your organization.” This means more than simply understanding KPIs and metrics, it means understanding a company’s culture and its technological abilities to innovate.

And beyond that, a true innovative design partner will provide an outside perspective that challenges a company’s status quo. This challenging of norms, ideals, and even beliefs can help to push companies beyond the next product, to a vision for the future of their company.

Know Who They Are

Not all innovative design firms are the same. You need to know the work they do and their areas of expertise.

Beyond simply talking with members of an innovative design firm, explore their case studies. Case studies give you a chance to examine the nature of a company and their areas of expertise. Once you’ve had a chance to get to know them on paper, take a moment to meet them in person.

Because it’s meeting in person that you’ll really get a feel for the people who are working on the project, and that is crucial to your success.

Think “People over Pitch” as outlined in the steps to “Hiring The Right Design and Innovation Consulting Firm” diagram below:

They Love a Challenge

This is why reading case studies is important. Not only do you get a feel for the work, but you’re able to see and understand an innovation strategy firm’s propensity to challenge.

And let’s be clear, you want them to challenge at every stage of the game. Because it’s within those challenges that you see the true creativity of a firm. They don’t get comfortable with the status quo. They take the status quo, throw it out and feel comfortable with that which is uncomfortable.

Curious about what else it takes to find the right innovation design partner? Checkout out our paper “Design to Win: Start by Choosing the Right Partner”.




Gretchen Hoffman

Posted By: 

Gretchen Hoffman

VP Marketing