Be More Innovative

Our experts do a lot of thinking. Here's the latest to unlock your potential.
Orgs enable innovation HERO
What It Looks Like When Organizations Enable Innovation—By Design
Within every organization, innovation wants to thrive. Here’s what it looks like when organizations dismantle the obstacles that stand in the way.
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What Can Data Science and Machine Learning Do for You?
Here are nine examples across different sectors of how data science and machine learning can help unlock the power of your data.
Stop trying to innovate HERO
Stop Trying to Innovate. Try This Instead.
Companies tend to become less agile and innovative as they grow. This outcome is so common that it feels inevitable. Good news: It isn’t.
Innovation theater design thinking
Stop Design Thinking From Becoming 'Innovation Theater'
Too many times design thinking projects fall victim to the trappings of innovation theater. Here's how not to let that happen.
Women in industrial design
Women in design: 8 ways your origin story can make you a better designer
Women make up just 20% of professional industrial designers in the United States, according to an industry survey by Core77.
INLINE Jobs Blog
Use ‘Jobs, Outcomes, and Constraints’ To Exploit the Pause Between Research and Ideation
The 'Jobs, Outcomes, and Constraints' method lets you move into ideation knowing that you're working from something more than a hunch.
12 Article Lee Books2020
Must-reads for innovation
Being home more in 2020 meant a little more down time, including more time for books and audio books.
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The long haul
You might remember being forced to read the poem “Ozymandias” in high school English class.
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How STEEPLE Analysis Informs Design Strategy
STEEPLE analysis is a tool for scanning your external environment. It helps teams understand phenomena and imagine new opportunities.
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Reflections on Delve Talks, Part 2: Building a Culture of Innovation
For our Delve Talks podcast, Dave Franchino and I had the opportunity to interview a dozen people from various industries, all of whom share a common interest, desire and occupation that involves innovation, creativity and culture building. You can find the whole series here.
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Reflections on Delve Talks, Part 1: Building a Culture of Innovation
For our Delve Talks podcast, Dave Franchino and I had the opportunity to interview a dozen people from various industries, all of whom share a common interest, desire and occupation that involves innovation, creativity, and culture building. You can find the whole series here
Stef design strategy
What is design strategy and why do you need one?
Design Strategy is a process and approach for creating or re-inventing businesses and directing innovation/new growth strategies. I think few people have heard of design strategy though they might already be doing something similar, perhaps under the name innovation strategy or product strategy.
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Bend, don’t break
(Any Day But) Tuesday… If it was Tuesday, you could guarantee there was no electricity. You couldn’t iron your clothes, watch TV or turn on the lights. You’d do anything to have a portable fan blast air on your face on a crushing summer afternoon, but you couldn’t.
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Open thoughts on open source
I have been spending a fair amount of time thinking about the spectrum of successes and failures related to the open-source maker movement and its contributions to addressing the COVID crisis.
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Should Covid change your research plans?
To say we’re living in turbulent times right now is an understatement. I won’t belabor repeating the news or all the facets of uncertainty. With that, I write this hoping all who read it are as safe and healthy as can be and that you are finding things to be grateful for even when that seems impossible.
How to make way for radical innovation
How to Make Way For Radical Innovation
Before starting on an innovation strategy, decide which type you're chasing: Incremental, disruptive, and radical innovation each require a unique approach.
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How you can help design succeed
Over the years, there have been designers still young in their careers that have come to me looking for advice and ideas of what to do next. They’ve all told me their tales of woe about how design is just not respected or understood where they work. And this, of course, coincides with their (and design’s) struggle to find a solid footing within the organization.
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Designing good decisions
This video was recorded in November 2019 during an After Hours presentation in our Madison office. Read Stefanie Norvaisas' article on decision making.
Unicorn techworker
Our unicorns are real
Apparently, unicorns just went extinct in Silicon Valley. That’s sad news for the small group of tech entrepreneurs who hope to cash in on the latest gold rush and build a company with a $1 billion-plus valuation.
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The importance of an improvisation mindset, part 2
This article is part two of a series about the advantages of an improvisation (improv) mindset on workplace teams. Read part one here.
12 article Tayler improv2
The importance of an improvisation mindset
This article is part one of a two-part series about the advantages of an improvisation mindset on workplace teams.
12 Article Amy Strategy
Strategy is a verb
You’re probably already looking up the word “strategy” to see if it’s a noun or a verb. Spoiler alert: it’s a noun.
06 Article Kent Failuremodeschart @2X
Everyone Fails
I recently hosted a discussion on a topic I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. Failure. Specifically, the role of failure in innovation.
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10 steps to help combat design tunnel vision
Have you ever been given a physical tool to help you complete a task when what you really needed was information or support?
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MIND map to project success
Planning research activities for design and innovation projects can be overwhelming at times, especially when entering a new market or segment.
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Learning to learn quickly
Having a foundational understanding of your problem space is necessary for any design process. You wouldn’t hire someone who has never seen the ocean to design a ship, would you?
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SXSW Wrap-up: Moving the needle & our cheese
Looking back on our four days in Austin, we were struck by a common message spoken and implied by the many purpose-driven speakers we listened to. Here it is: Find an organizing principle for your company, your project, product or community to move the needle.
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The power of failure
A very common mantra in product development and specifically Design Thinking is to “fail early and often.”
12 Article Verhalen Humancentered @2X
The business of empathy: Designing like your customers are human
If you are innovating by practicing customer-centered design, it may be the reason you aren’t getting the results you need.
06 Article Kopenski Pharma Packaging
More specific drug labels could simplify reimbursement
Most people think that the high cost of pharmaceuticals is largely driven by R&D costs.
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VR: From “Dactyl” to practical
I had my first virtual reality (VR) experience at an arcade called Aladin’s Castle located in the Brookfield Square Mall in suburban Milwaukee in 1991.
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Four ways to work more collaboratively with interaction designers
Designing appliances increasingly involves and interaction design component. How do you integrate this skill into your development process effectively?
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The Why, How, and When of Co-Creation During the Product Development Process
Co-creation in the design world might take several forms, but most often it's in the form of a moderated co-workshop that brings together designers, users, and client stakeholders.
06 Article Dave Stef Tribes H1
Confessions of a (former) tribal warrior
I have a confession to make. My co-worker Stefanie used to drive me nuts.
06 Article Tyler Miad H1
Design of the dead
As a design team, we are constantly in search of ways to stay involved with the design community and shine light on upcoming talent
06 Article Amrish No Threat H1
Designing systems instead of assigning blame
In the immediate aftermath of any newsworthy accident, we often hear the words "human error" or "user error".
06 Article Amy Three Ideas H1
Building the perfect team with psychological safety
Psychological safety can be the difference between innovative and just OK. Here are three easy ways to build psychological safety at your organization.
06 Article Joan Whiteboard H1
What's in a whiteboard? More than you might think
There are very few things I miss about our former home at Buttonwood Drive in Madison ... except for the employees-only bathroom.
06 Article Kent Kallsen Qms H1
QMS that works for us, our clients
Quality Management Systems (QMS) are used in businesses big and small to help insure that business processes are focused on meeting customer requirements and enhancing client satisfaction.
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Challenging the status quo of project management
The constellation Orion contains two of the universe’s brightest stars.
06 Article Ami Verhalen Human Centered H1
Human-centered design ... but even more human.
Now more than ever, society is hungry for simplicity and human connection.
12 Article Big Data H1
Health 2.0: Data — how to organize, access, and use it
One of the main focuses of the Health 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, CA this year was on data.
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User Experience Research at LinkedIn
Julie Norvaisas, who is my sister (learn more about sisters in research in this blog), co-founder of Design Strategy and Research at Design Concepts, and now Director of User Experience Research (UER) at LinkedIn, joined us recently to share her perspective on how she approaches user experience research at LinkedIn.
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Startup Week: Developing an MVP with a capital “P”
As I was hurtling back to San Francisco across the Rockies, the backbone of our country, after spending a couple days at the Colorado Springs Startup Week, I was struck by the changes in my profession.
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Design research lessons from the yoga mat
I’ve been spending a lot of the time on the mat lately – the yoga mat that is – and have been finding some valuable parallels between what my yoga teachers guide me to do and how to approach a good design research practice.
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You say sketch, I say scenario ...
When I began the first year of my MBA program at a well-known business school, a Facebook was still a real book, printed on paper.
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The power of “So what?”
I remember the first time my business partner, design strategist Stefanie Norvaisas, was critiquing a meeting presentation and challenged the presenter with “So what?” on an important slide.
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How to give Design a seat at the Lean Startup table
My colleague Roshelle Ritzenthaler and I recently presented at South by Southwest on “How to Give Design a Seat at the Lean Startup Table.” There was a line around the corner for our talk, which tells me this is a topic on a lot of designers' minds.
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Making decisions at SXSW
Stefanie Norvaisas and I recently returned from an amazing trip to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, where we had the opportunity to host a workshop on Designing Decisions.
12 Article Kent Staying Power H1
Staying power ...
We undoubtedly live in a time where change is constant.
12 Article Marlissa Trip Hero H1
Leading when you are lost
I recently returned to Design Concepts after a deeply meaningful six-month world trip with my husband and elementary school-aged daughters.
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Need for speed: Approaches to picking up the pace of development
Innovation is risky business. It is expensive and time consuming. The faster you move, the longer you can survive.
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Of MGBs and multidisciplinary machines
I was given a personal example of the power of a multidisciplinary approach to innovation a few weekends back when I found myself coincidentally working on very similar parts of cars built in two very different eras.
12 Article Big Data H1
Answer the big questions before you begin Big Data
I recently attended the first Big Data Wisconsin conference, which was part of Madison’s larger Forward Festival.
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12 ideas to make calling customer service less hellish
Two weeks ago, I had to do something that I don't really enjoy. No, not a visit to the dentist or cleaning the basement. I had to call customer service.
12  Article  Ritzenthaler  Change Management
Navigating the new
Late last year, our leadership team at Design Concepts announced the long-in-the-making decision to relocate our Madison workplace from our current suburban office park to the rapidly developing East Washington corridor of downtown Madison.
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Captain Contrarian: Innovation by competitive attack
Crafting a product, department or corporate strategy never happens in a bubble. It’s an ever-moving target because of trends in the marketplace, shifts in consumer behavior, and competitive actions.
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What type of innovator are you?
Innovation is tricky business, so is working in teams.
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Finding simplicity in the complexity of the Internet of Things
The Solid Conference – Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things (solidcon.com), recently held in San Francisco, is touted as a revolutionary conference that goes beyond the Internet of Things.
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Empathy is key to new product success
I love the energy in the new product development space.
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Connect with success by knowing your blind spots
Designing and delivering connected products and the transition to the Internet of Things (IoT) is today’s product development frontier.
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Uncertainty makes us sweaty…
I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in the inaugural VergeNYC conference hosted by Parsons School of Design where the theme was “Action in the Face of Uncertainty.”
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How to draw out a group's creativity
One of my favorite skills acquired while working at Delve is Graphic Recording and Facilitation.
Target practice
I’ve played squash since I was a teenager.
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What's in a name?
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
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Dishing it out
I grew up in the 1970s when family dinner was all about conveniences like microwaves, canned food, frozen entrees and instant mashed potatoes. Taste … not so much.
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What eight little girls re-taught me about design thinking
My six-year-old daughter wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. Given the way she can rock a Sophia the First t-shirt and disco ball silver leggings, she may have an actual shot.
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Developing an introvert’s superpower
Do you know someone who can absorb a vast amount of complex information about a problem and combine it into a cohesive, elegant solution?
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Wowhunting
A couple of weeks back I had one of those great experiences that makes this job absolutely unbeatable. We had the chance to visit a client who is wrapping up final testing on the prototype of a product on which we collaborated. Unfortunately, confidentiality still reigns on this project so I need to keep the exact client and project under wraps. But it looks like they’re pretty close to springing it on the market – and we’re pretty sure it’s going make a huge impact. It doesn’t just look and work great — it completely rethinks the industry. In short, it’s a wow.