Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to propose that high quality innovations benefit both companies and customers. Most businesses have formal systems to ensure benefit to company, and weaker, informal systems to retain or add value to customers. This paper aims to provide a way to formally apply heuristics designers use (“design thinking”) to maintain a line-of-sight to company and customer needs in all decisions from concept through production. This approach should result in offerings that are compelling to customers and are profitable to companies. Design/method/approach – The paper has developed a concept to maximize the contribution of relatively few people in organizations with design thinking heuristics expertise. The concept was developed within Hewlett Packard (HP), and by studying the roles of customer experience, marketing and design organization in other companies. The approach has been validated through establishing new roles on pilot projects and is the basis for architecting the design practice at HP. Findings – Although similar methods may be employed, insights from design research differ from findings yielded from market research. Design research is optimized for designing offerings and market research is often optimized for marketing a product. Design research is the basis on which design thinking works. The role for design planning and applied design (both rely on design thinking) varies, depending on the type of innovation that best suits a business' strategy. Originality/value – The quality of innovations can be improved by leveraging the design thinking heuristics from designers, and first applying the design thinking to solving business issues and frame opportunities, then to inform decision-making related to the ensuing offerings via applied design.
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