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  • Writer's pictureHani W. Naguib

Mentor Journey: Let's Talk Action Innovation (Part 2)

Exploring the dual nature of design thinking to innovate the next engines of growth.

Design thinking is the origin/inspiration of almost all the movement we see today. It is the philosophy and the mindset behind the attempts of “Lean Startup”, “Business Modeling” to make a relatable and scalable innovation tangible process for entrepreneurs and managers alike. Perhaps the movements did not tackle the mindset part hard enough. The focus is some how emphasized on tools and steps then it is emphasizing the philosophy behind them, the “mindset fuel” sort of speak. Some blame Design Thinking, Lean Startup, business modeling for not delivering as their expectations. Well, if you are an unexperienced race driver and you are given a brand new Ferrari, you will complain about its performance because you probably can not win any races with it.

It is not the tool, it is the mindset using the tool!

"Hustling innovation" can only take you as far as hustling can take an olive seller who wanted to sell the highly demanded black olives and all what he had is green ones. So he painted them black.

True story by the way!

The superficial handling of design can only create superficial results.

Creating value must get past the buzzwords. A deeper interest in value creation must be inspired beyond entertaining and colorful workspaces/labs! Designing in its nature is holistic and not exclusive. It does not focus on details, but explores the specifics of a visionary big picture.

Design thinking was and still a bold move to create something better, something new. The mutual “action” of designing for humans what is valuable and harvesting value out of it. It is the creation of value out of delivering value.


I remember when I read about Einstein’s photoelectric effect theory that described light’s dual nature, as both a wave and a particle. It was simple, yet it showed deep appreciation of what is observed in nature. Light behaved as both a particle and a wave. Aside from all the technical details behind the theory, one thing I really liked is how this duality allowed the light to propagate freely in space. They both created an environment for each other to make that a possibility.

The philosophy behind design thinking thus far has not been exactly complete, I humbly assume. I believe that design thinking, like light, has a dual nature. Thus far, it has been primarily preoccupied with designing for the customer (people). But in order for it to propagate properly in the business space, another side has to be included: the organization (also people).

I often speak about the four dimensions of business design: desirability, feasibility, viability and adaptability. Based on the human centric design model popularized by IDEO, and adding adaptability (the business environment dimension) to it, I believe that any organization is seeking to create value innovation must consider more than designing a new product or a new business model. They must create the right “Action” to propel innovation inside and outside of the organization.

What do I mean by that?

By appreciating that an organization’s sense of progress is integrated with the potential customer’s sense of life progress. Harmonize what an organization is trying to achieve and what the customer is trying to achieve.

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