Taxonomy of Innovation

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Vision Statement
A Taxonomy of Innovation

Fast-changing markets demand rapid development of new products and processes. Thousands of tools and methods are available to help innovators discover what users want and how to deliver on their expectations. The challenge is to figure out which ones to use when.

Luma Institute has created a framework to help you choose the best tool for each step of the innovation process, based on the people you’re designing for and the complexity of the systems in which you operate. Luma distilled the portfolio down to 36 of the most effective tools for innovation—the majority of them in common use—organized in three categories: looking, understanding, and making. Each category contains three subcategories, and each subcategory contains four innovation tools. This hierarchical model makes it much easier to identify the tools you need and then put them to use.

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Observing Human Experience

Innovation begins with the keen observation of people and their behavior. Tools in this category are intended to foster curiosity, empathy, and objectivity.

Analyzing Challenges and Opportunities

Thoughtful analysis, critical thinking, and problem framing are vital to innovation. Tools in this cateogry help to identify patterns, determine priorities, and translate research into actionable insights.

Envisioning Future Possibilities

To understand an idea's strengths and weaknesses, you have to bring it to life. Tools in this category enable visual expression and iterative improvement.

So how do I use this?

It works best to combine multiple techniques. Bill Lucas, Luma’s cofounder and director of curriculum, recommends using at least one tool from at least two categories during each round of innovation. For example, the sequence below will generate many new ideas and then help your team narrow its focus to develop only the most promising ones. (Select any card below to see how to use that technique.)

Does it scale?

Yes. You can organize large-scale efforts around the taxonomy by using a series of sequences. For example, a company that wants to enter an emerging market could use three rounds of sequences, as shown below. (Select any card below to see how to use that technique.) It would start with on-the-ground techniques, including contextual inquiry and experience diagramming, to understand the market. Next, the team would use modeling and diagramming techniques to make sense of all the information gathered in the first sequence. Based on those models, they would then iteratively build prototypes, ultimately honing one to become a pilot product.



Source: The Luma Institute Human-Centered Design Methodology