Action Researcher to Design Innovation Catalyst: Building design capability from within

Design-led innovation offers an alternate approach to solving problems and creating value – one that is creative, empathetic to end users and future orientated. The benefits of design for organisations are acknowledged, the buzz word ‘design thinking’ is thrown around from time to time. We now know that organisations’ who harness design as a source of innovation outperform their rivals considerably – think of Coca Cola, SAP and Apple. But the financial paradigm is only one component for success. Organisations’ that do harness design also create better products, services and experiences for customers and users every day. Organisations that harness design shape a better society, now and for future generations to come.

So why don’t all organisations benefit from design? This is where the dilemma arises. The very alternate nature of design – the way designers think and approach problems, questioning the status quo and challenging conventions makes adopting the approach difficult. This article follows the journey of an action researcher who became a catalyst for design innovation within an Australian Airport Corporation – a very risk aware and conservative organisation. In a chemical sense, a ‘catalyst’ contributes vital extra energy to accelerate a reaction to the point of creating value. In the context of this study, the researcher too became an agent of change, contributing energy, new design perspectives, knowledge and approaches to solve problems and create value for the airport, its passengers and stakeholders. The researcher coached and demonstrated design, and even joined the corporate football team to share her fresh perspectives.  This is the story of change, of resilience, of building design capability from within.

We hope you enjoy the read.

Regards, Judy, Cara and Rebecca.

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning  10 October.

After you’ve had a chance to read this piece, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments below so we can continue this discussion!