EDIPT image adapted from the Design Thinking Innovation Process from the Stanford d.school
First and foremost, innovation is a process. It’s not a pill you pop or a wand you wave. Innovation is method, not magic. And making the time you need to master this method (by practicing it over and over and over and over again) will turn innovaphobia (fear of innovation) into innovaphilia (love of innovation). But you will only move from fear to friendship with familiarity. So it is crucial to repeatedly expose your team to the process we’re about to explain by practicing it until its moves become instinctive. Once the process is transfused in your team’s bloodstream, you’ll experience what Tom Kelley calls “creative confidence”—an increased sense of courageous assurance that your team can in fact innovate.
Our team is deeply indebted to the Stanford d.school and its free-sharing heart for collaboration in innovation. From them, we’ve adapted a model we call the “EDIPT” method. This is a human-centered design thinking process for innovation. EDIPT is an acronym made up from the process’ 5 moves: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. After carefully considering close to a dozen process models of innovation from various companies and experts, this one has proven to be, far and away, the most intuitively effective for our purposes. There are certain muscular shifts we’ve made to allow the process to best fly in our non-commercial, social-innovation context. But the skeletal concepts are the same.
Before we overview EDIPT, let’s ruminate on some of the core values of design thinking:
1//The EDIPT process is called human-centered for a reason. The whole thing begins with the fundamental idea that to truly innovate for the benefit of someone else, you must first climb into their skin and feel what they are struggling with from their own perspective.
2//The process emphasizes validating and modifying your best solution ideas through prototyping or experimentation to gain feedback from those people you’re seeking to help.
3//The EDIPT process has a bias toward action that pushes you to do and try, not just think.
4//The process has a bent toward storytelling as a way to compellingly communicate your vision for how your potential solution will enjoy impact in the lives of others.
5//The process pushes participants to run through all five moves of the design cycle at a fast pace in order to increase process flow familiarity and reveal the power of iterating solutions. When you do and redo, build and rebuild, shape and reshape an idea, it re-re-refines it.
THE EDIPT PROCESS OF INNOVATION Again, EDIPT is an acronym made up from the process’ 5 moves: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Here’s a brief overview of each of those moves.