101 Design Methods:

A Structured Approach
for Driving Innovation in
Your Organization


Paperback (304 pages)
Released on October 2012 by Wiley

Unlike other books on the subject, 101 Design Methods approaches the practice of creating new products, services, and customer experiences as a science, rather than an art, providing a practical set of collaborative tools and methods for planning and defining successful new offerings. Strategists, managers, designers, and researchers who undertake the challenge of innovation, despite a lack of established procedures and a high risk of failure, will find this an invaluable resource. Novices can learn from it; managers can plan with it; and practitioners of innovation can improve the quality of their work by referring to it.

Seven modes of the design innovation process

& 101 design methods

There are seven distinct modes of the innovation planning process: Sense Intent, Know Context, Know People, Frame Insights, Explore Concepts, Frame Solutions, and Realize Offerings. Each mode has its own goals and activities. 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization introduces each of these modes as a separate chapter with a set of methods.

Mode : Sense Intent

Early on in the process we are in this mode of figuring out where to start. Before jumping straight into a project we take a pause and consider the changing world around us. We look at all the changes happening in business, technology, society, culture, policy, and others. We gather the latest happenings, cutting edge developments, and latest news. We study the trends that can affect our topic area. We look at the overall effects of these changes. All these offer us a way to reframe our initial problem and look for new innovation opportunities. It helps us think of an initial intent about where we should be moving. >> See methods

    1.01 - Buzz Reports
    1.02 - Popular Media Scan
    1.03 - Key Facts
    1.04 - Innovation Sourcebook
    1.05 - Trends Expert Interview
    1.06 - Keyword Bibliometrics
    1.07 - Ten Types of Innovation Framework
    1.08 - Innovation Landscape
    1.09 - Trends Matrix
    1.10 - Convergence Map
    1.11 - From…To Exploration
    1.12 - Initial Opportunity Map
    1.13 - Offering-Activity-Culture Map
    1.14 - Intent Statement

>> Hide methods

Mode : Know Context

In "Know Context" we study the context -- the circumstances or events that affect the environment in which our innovation offerings (products, services, experiences, brands etc.) exist or could exist. We study how our offerings perform in the market. We focus on offerings that are similar to ours and see how they perform. We study our organization. We look at all the competitors and their evolving strategies. We learn about our organization's relationship to our complementors in the industry. We find out if government policies and regulations have an effect on our innovation topic. Broadly, in this mode, we pay attention to what is transforming our innovation context including society, environment, industry, technology, business, culture, politics, and economics. >> See methods

    2.01 - Contextual Research Plan
    2.02 - Popular Media Search
    2.03 - Publications Research
    2.04 - Eras Map
    2.05 - Innovation Evolution Map
    2.06 - Financial Profile
    2.07 - Analogous Models
    2.08 - Competitors-Complementors Map
    2.09 - Ten Types of Innovation Diagnostics
    2.10 - Industry Diagnostics
    2.11 - SWOT
    2.12 - Subject Matter Experts Interview
    2.13 - Interest Groups Discussion

>> Hide methods

Mode : Know People

In this mode our goal is to understand people (end-users and other stakeholders) and their interactions with everything during their daily lives. In this mode traditional market research techniques are most useful when a new offering is already defined. But to explore a person's unmet or unspoken needs we must have more powerful methods and tools. We use observational and ethnographic research methods to learn about people in ways that are different from interviews or focus group studies. A key objective in this mode is to extract the most valuable insights from our observations. An "insight" here is defined as an interesting revelation or learning that emerges out of observing people's actual behavior. Insight is an interpretation of what is observed, and is often the result of asking the question "why?" >> See methods

    3.01 - Research Participant Mapping
    3.02 - Research Planning Survey
    3.03 - User Research Plan
    3.04 - Five Human Factors
    3.05 - POEMS
    3.06 - Field Visit
    3.07 - Video Ethnography
    3.08 - Ethnographic Interview
    3.09 - User Pictures Interview
    3.10 - Cultural Artifacts
    3.11 - Image Sorting
    3.12 - Experience Simulation
    3.13 - Field Activity
    3.14 - Remote User Research
    3.15 - User Observations Database

>> Hide methods

Mode : Frame Insights

After conducting research, the next step is to bring structure to what has been found and learned from the previous modes. We sort, cluster, and organize the data gathered in the previous three modes and begin to find important patterns. We analyze contextual data and view patterns that point to untapped market opportunities or niches. Finding insights and patterns that repeatedly emerge from multiple analyses of data is beneficial. Therefore in this mode we use a mix of different kinds of methods in order to gain multiple perspective of the context for a fuller understanding. Guidelines or principles that are generated in this mode help us move to the modes for exploring concepts and framing solutions. >> See methods

    4.01 - Observations to Insights
    4.02 - Observations Sorting
    4.03 - User Observation Database queries
    4.04 - User Response Queries
    4.05 - ERAF System Diagram
    4.06 - Descriptive Value Web
    4.07 - Entities Position Map
    4.08 - Venn Diagramming
    4.09 - Tree / Semilattice Diagramming
    4.10 - Symmetric Clustering Matrix
    4.11 - Asymmetric Clustering Matrix
    4.12 - Activity Network
    4.13 - Insights Clustering Matrix
    4.14 - Semantic Profile
    4.15 - User Groups Definition
    4.16 - Compelling Experience Map
    4.17 - User Journey Map
    4.18 - Opportunity Framework
    4.19 - Design Principles Generation
    4.20 - Analysis Workshop

>> Hide methods

Mode : Explore Concepts

In this mode we do structured brainstorming to identify opportunities and to explore new concepts. We use the insights and principles framed earlier as the starting places to generate concepts. We ensure that fresh and bold ideas are generated through collaborative sessions. Team members build on each other's concepts while carefully postponing critical evaluation. Further, by basing our concepts on the results from previous modes, we ensure that the concepts are defensible and grounded in reality. Concepts for products, services, communications, environments, brands, business models, and others are typically explored in this mode. Even at this early stage of exploration, we construct rough prototypes, either to focus team discussions or to get early user or client feedback. >> See methods

    5.01 - Principles to Opportunities
    5.02 - Opportunity Mind Map
    5.03 - Value Hypothesis
    5.04 - Persona Definition
    5.05 - Ideation Session
    5.06 - Concept Generating Matrix
    5.07 - Concept Metaphors and Analogies
    5.08 - Role-play Ideation
    5.09 - Ideation Game
    5.10 - Puppet Scenario
    5.11 - Behavioral Prototype
    5.12 - Concept Prototype
    5.13 - Concept Sketch
    5.14 - Concept Scenarios
    5.15 - Concept Sorting
    5.16 - Concept Grouping Matrix
    5.17 - Concept Catalog

>> Hide methods

Mode : Frame Solutions

In this mode, we build on the large set of concepts that have been developed earlier by combining them to form systems of concepts, named "Solutions". We evaluate concepts and identify the ones that bring the most value to stakeholders (primarily users and businesses). The most valuable concepts are combined into systems of concepts that work together well and reinforce each other's value. We also evaluate concepts based on their compatibilities to help form holistic solutions. We ensure that the concepts and solutions are organized into useful categories and hierarchies. We iteratively prototype solutions, and test them in reality. In this mode descriptions of solutions are turned into depictions to give the team, the users and the client(s) a visceral sense of "what could be." >> See methods

    6.01 - Morphological Synthesis
    6.02 - Concept Evaluation
    6.03 - Prescriptive Value Web
    6.04 - Concept Linking Map
    6.05 - Foresight Scenario
    6.06 - Solution Diagramming
    6.07 - Solution Storyboard
    6.08 - Solution Enactment
    6.09 - Solution Prototype
    6.10 - Solution Evaluation
    6.11 - Solution Roadmap
    6.12 - Solution Database
    6.13 - Synthesis Workshop

>> Hide methods

Mode : Realize Offerings

Once potential solutions are framed and prototypes tested, they need to be evaluated to move to implementation. In this mode, we ensure that the solutions are purposefully built around people's experiences and can provide real value. It is also important to make sure these solutions add economic value for the organizations producing them. Once we establish high-value solutions, implementation plans follow. For this, design and business innovators collaborate to define viable strategic directions. We create roadmaps to show the speculated progression of solutions in distinct phases. These roadmaps are shared with the stakeholders, showing everyone involved the steps necessary to implement the solution. A business case is prepared for prompting further action with clearly defined and specific initiatives the organization will follow to facilitate implementation. >> See methods

    7.01 - Strategy Roadmap
    7.02 - Platform Plan
    7.03 - Strategy Plan Workshop
    7.04 - Pilot Development and Testing
    7.05 - Implementation Plan
    7.06 - Competencies Plan
    7.07 - Teaming Plan / Initiatives Plan
    7.08 - Vision Statement
    7.09 - Innovation Brief

>> Hide methods

Events and News

Vijay Kumar
Professor, Institute of Design


Vijay Kumar is a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design in Chicago and leads the Strategic Design Planning and the Design Methods programs www.id.iit.edu. For more than 12 years he was the chief methodologist at Doblin Inc. (now a member of Deloitte) a leading global innovation firm based in Chicago www.doblin.com.


With over 30 years of global work experience, Kumar has taught, published, lectured, and consulted throughout the world about how to use structured methods, tools, and frameworks for conceiving reliable human-centered innovations and turning them into strategic plans for organizations. His research is focused on framing up emerging innovation opportunities in education, health care, communication, retail, social reform, built environments, and emerging markets among others. He is the inventor of many methods, tools, and frameworks designed to uncover unexplored innovation opportunities.

He consults with companies and organizations around the world for planning innovations using systemic, structured, and human-centered methods. He has consulted with Alamo, Amoco, Amway, Autodesk, Bose, Ceasefire, Cigna, Daishinsha, Hallmark, Kraft Foods, Lenscrafters, Liberty Mutual, McDonald's, Motorola, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Shell, SAS Airlines, Steelcase, Target, Texas Instruments, T-Mobile, Wells Fargo, and Zurich Financials among others www.linkedin.com/pub/vijay-kumar/4/324/5bb/.

Kumar is a frequent speaker and is widely published on the topic of innovation. He regularly conducts executive workshops on innovation for organizations around the world. He is the author of the best selling book on design thinking, "101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization" www.101designmethods.com.

Recently, the Design Futures Council has named Kumar as an Honorary Senior Fellow for his “significant contributions toward the understanding of changing trends, new research, and applied knowledge that improve the built environment and the human condition” www.di.net/about/senior_fellows/.


Watch two short videos