101 Design Methods:
A Structured Approach
for Driving Innovation in
Your Organization

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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 planning 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

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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

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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

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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 views 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

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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

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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

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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

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Events and News

Vijay Kumar
Professor, Institute of Design

Vijay Kumar is a professor at the IIT Institute of Design and leads the Strategic Design Planning and the Design Methods programs. He is also a consultant, coach, and advisor to global corporations and organizations. For more than 12 years he was the chief methodologist at Doblin Inc. (now a member of Deloitte) a global innovation firm.

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, 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, Autodesk, Bose, Ceasefire, 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.

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.



Design Methods discussion at LEO BURNETT, CHICAGO

Vijay Kumar leads a discussion with Leo Burnett Experience Design team on July 12th, 2013.


CONTRACT DESIGN features Q&A with Professor Vijay KumaR

Vijay Kumar interviewed in the 2013 May issue of Contract Design Magazine.


UX BOOK CLUB / IXDA Chicago meetup group discusses the book

Vijay Kumar moderates the discussion. Hosted by WunderLand Group on June 26th, 2013.


Vijay Kumar delivers keynote at the WHIRLPOOL GLOBAL SUMMIT

Facilitates discussion at the Advanced Design Studio, Chicago on June 19th, 2013.


Book signing event at NEOCON CHICAGO

At Universal Fibers, Merchandize Mart, Chicago on June 11th, 2013.



Vijay Kumar presents innovation methods to respond to a new class of problems like urban restoration and information policy that are systemic, ambiguous, and rapidly changing. May 15th, 2013 at Spertus Institute.



IIT Institute of Design and Autodesk host a lecture and cocktail reception for the design community on April 18th, 2013.


SAN FRANCISCO Research Strategy meetup group discusses the book

Vijay Kumar moderates the discussion. Hosted by the Institute for Creative Integration on April 19th, 2013.


Design Innovation discussion at APPHAUS SAP LABS, LOS ALTOS

Vijay Kumar leads the discussion on April 20th, 2013.


Vijay Kumar joins the panel at SMART SALON, NEW YORK

Vijay Kumar discusses current issues surrounding design methods as part of Smart Design’s ongoing Smart Salon series on March 13th, 2013.



IIT Institute of Design together with bswing hosts a lecture and cocktail reception for the design community on April 11th, 2013.



Vijay Kumar presents "Design Thinking - Modes, Mindsets, Methods" to the design and IT community of Pune hosted by Persistent Systems at their Dewang Mehta Auditorium on April 1st, 2013.


Vijay Kumar presents at CONVEYUX 2013, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Presents an overview of key principles that drive "Design Innovation" followed by a detailed look at the design innovation process and methods. March 5th, 2013.



IIT Institute of Design together with NBBJ hosts a lecture and cocktail reception for the design community on March 4th, 2013.



IIT Institute of Design 75th Anniversary event on October 10th, 2012 at Chicago.

Book release event hosted by Doblin Inc. (part of Deloitte) on November 14th, 2012.

Vijayagiri Family Art Exhibition event on December 28th, 2012 at Trivandrum, India.



At the “2nd Global Strategic Design Forum: Design as strategy to steer through turbulence” on January 7th and 8th, 2013. Forum organized by IIT Institute of Design and CII Naoroji Godrej Centre of Excellence.



Book content is used as the primary process for the IIT Institute of Design’s India Immersion Program in which ID and Godrej India teams collaborate on a project in January 2013.



Vijay Kumar delivered a keynote presentation at the George Washington University and Children’s National Medical Center Leadership Summit: “New Paradigms in Medical Innovation” on February 21, 2013.


33 VOICES features Professor Vijay Kumar

33Voices.com publishes an audio interview with Vijay Kumar about the book and design thinking in November 2012.


Opening Keynote at the NASSCOM SUMMIT, PUNE, INDIA

Vijay Kumar presents at the NASSCOM Engineering Summit on September 28th, 2012.



Vijay Kumar facilitates a 2-day workshop organized by CII (Confederation of Indian Industries) and Godrej for Indian company executives on September 24th and 25th, 2012.


Design Innovation workshop in AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Vijay Kumar facilitates a 1-day workshop organized by “Thoughtfull - Design / Innovation / Strategy” on Aug 17th, 2012.



Vijay Kumar delivers the introductory workshop for the “InnoDesign Leadership Programme” organized by the Institute of Design Knowledge (part of Hong Kong Design Center) in August 2012.


Watch a 1-minute video introduction to the book