101 Design Methods


I had been recommended the book “101 Design Methods” by Vijay Kumar a few times and finally got around to reading it over the holidays.  Vijay is one of the leading thinkers in Innovation and I have enjoyed everything I have read from him.

101 Design Methods was much more practical than I had thought it would be.  I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with an easy to use and understand framework to follow the design process and also a very comprehensive set of frameworks, models and tools to use.  While some tools air on the side of obvious i.e. “Popular Media Search”, others are extremely detailed and almost scientific i.e. “Symmetric Clustering Matrix”.

Before he gets deep into the tools, Vijay highlights some key realities of innovation and some guiding principles.  This one stood out to me “Current Innovation practices don’t reliably deliver breakthroughs.  There is a lack of a set of reliable tools and methods for creating breakthroughs rather than incremental or random improvements,” and “Innovation Planning is not an oxymoron”.  I am always arguing that Innovation is not a set of Eureka moments but rather something you can control and guide, so I am glad Vijay and I are aligned on this 🙂

In each chapter (framework step), Vijay provides a set of “mindsets” to adopt when looking at executing the step.  Each step includes “What it is”, “How it Works” and an example case study of where it was successful.  This makes the book very tangible and gives you pretty much everything you need to know to use that particular tool/step.   Not only are the tools easy to use, but the tools are great, the book is filled with mindmap meets excel type tools which made me feel like I was in a candy-store.

Vijay breaks down his framework into four quadrants and 7 steps and I thought I would highlight some of my favorite tools aligned with each step.

  • Sense Intent
    • Buzz Reports – Collect information on a topic from a wide array of sources to catch Buzz on it
    • Innovation Sourcebook – Find successful examples of offerings, organization and people and create a book/excel listing of these with descriptive data.  You can then compare across them to determine similarities or things you might be able to incorporate.
    • Trends Expert review – Interview with experts focused on: 1) Seeds – What are the early, emerging tredns and innovations? 2) Soil – How are the fundamentals affecting growth 3) Atmosphere – How are the surrounding conditions affecting growth 4) Plant – How do innovations grow to become robust 5) Water – How are the catalysts affecting growth
    •  Ten Types of Innovation Framework – The Doblin model
  • Know Context
    • Eras Map – Map events and innovations by era to track progression, development and trends
    • Analogous Models – Look at models similar or adjacent to the one you are solving for
  • Know People
    • 5 Human Factors – Look at the physical, cognitive, social, cultural and emotional aspects of people as they interact with products/services/offerings
    • POEMS – Look at these 5 factors when observing: People, Objects, Environments, Messages, Services
  • Frame Insights
    • ERAF Systems Diagram – Assess systems based on entities, relations, attributes, flows
  • Explore Concepts
  • Frame Solutions
  • Realize Offerings
    • Innovation BriefAn innovation overview template for communicating your innovation

I would highly recommend this book, at the very least as a resource you can hold onto and pull out for when you need some inspiration or a new approach for your work.