A lot of thoughtful analysis is emerging from the great debate underway on the subject of innovation versus design (first raised at a NYC conference organized by Patrick Whitney, head of the Illinois Institute of Design (yep, and the guy who just did the China design conference). Of course, it was that maverick Michael Bierut who really kicked it off on DesignObserver.

Now on another great innovation blog, Noise Between Stations, we hear complaints about the innovation crowd repeating itself and using tired old tools (financial analysis and surveys)to explain innovation. Referring to two studies by Booze Allen and BCG, the blog says "Financial analysis tells us what happened quantitatively but not why. Surveys show us perception of the situation, but not necessarily the real situation. Neither used qualitative research that, incidentally, can help address the problems they uncovered."

Right on. Innovation goes way beyond new products and continuous improvement in process (quality and cost). Doblin's Larry Keeley points out that there are at least 10 kinds of innovation and working three or four at once gives you a paradigm-shifting bang.

OK. I'm liking the innovation vs. design debate a lot now.

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