Cheers to Ideas, launchlabs office

You are reading the launchlabs Sofia New Year’s newsletter. Written with love for human-centred innovation.

2019 was a beautiful year in film. Already at its beginning, The Green Book won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Dimitar Marinov (the Bulgarian actor playing Dr Shirley’s Russian cellist) made us feel a little prouder about that Oscar here at launchlabs Sofia. Somewhere in the middle of the year, Tarantino offered us “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and put together the brilliance of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. …


Image from Strikingly library

Lately most of the articles that I read theorize how innovation methodologies and especially design thinking are either the absolute way to go or don’t work at all. Authors use pathos as the primary persuasion technique for the audience and end up with a simple conclusion — design thinking is either panacea or syphilis.

There are of course some excellent examples of real war stories, like the latest This is Service Design Doing book and the This Is Design Thinking.net website. They write about getting things done and go deeper into what worked and what didn’t, and why. …


Filippo Podestà — the Hub Milan, Co-creation, 20.07.2009

Co-creation is one of my favorite topics and something we strive to do with our clients. In the beginning of this year we started working with two new clients, coincidentally at the same time. The project briefs too were fairly similar — both wanted us to improve the experience of their customers in the retail network, but the approach they imagined couldn’t have been more different. While both understood that customer research is something that will add value, one client wanted us to do it “for them” and the other “with them”.

I strongly believe in co-creation mode when working…


In my previous blog posts I wrote about the ineffectiveness of innovation trainings and the importance of working on a real innovation project immediately after the training. In short, we all face training decay and forget about 50% of what we learn within two weeks after the training and about 90% within a year if we don’t practice it. Scary, I know. But it’s true. And it’s especially true for trainings in innovation methodologies like service design, design thinking and others that are highly contextual and experiential. The solution-focused people among us will say “OK, let’s then set a team…


Runway by Joi Ito on Flickr

I’ve been designing and delivering design thinking-based innovation workshops and programs for the the last 5 years. The problem that I’ve observed over and over again is the dissonance between the participants’ engagement during the training and their inaction afterwards. Gradually, I’ve come to the uncomforting conclusion that innovation trainings do not work.

So, what can we do to fix this? To begin with, we should focus on the end-to-end participant’s journey. As Dr Eduardo Salas writes:

“What happens before and after a training session, is just as important as the actual instruction itself.”

Dr Eduardo Salas is a professor…


Photo: Dollar bill by TaxRebate on Flickr

Part of my job is to design and deliver innovation trainings. You could say I help organizations’ most valuable asset — people — change. In the last year, I’ve trained more than 500 people. Together with people I work closely with, we’ve trained thousands of people. We’ve worked with both big corporations and small-sized companies and different industries. We witness high appetite for innovation trainings and serious budgets spend on workshops alone. The question is are they worth it?

As an analogy, let’s think for a minute about personal change. Have you ever wanted to get fit? I did. If…


Campanello (Doorbell) by Giovanni on Flickr

The relationship between design and design thinking has never been an easy one. In a recent post I wrote at length about this love-hate relationship.

My main thesis was that design thinking is empowering non-designers to think and work like designers when looking for a solution. With focus on the end-user, in collaboration, iteratively and boldly. But are designers really working in this way?

Part of my job is about training people in design thinking, and I usually start my workshops with the question “How does a designer think? What do designers do differently?”

Surprisingly the answers I get are…


Money by Tax Credits on Flickr

As design thinking is making its way to more and more organisations, the question of return-on-investment (ROI) is quickly becoming one of the most vividly discussed topics. How do we measure results from design thinking? Why do we do it — to motivate and reward, to increase market share, to innovate? What perspective do we take — financial or cultural?

ROI is a difficult (and important) question that always comes up during implementation of the methodology. If your organisation has trained a significant percentage of people in the methodology and has started applying it to projects, you should seriously be…


Love Hate Relationship by MissMessie on Flickr

If you are working in the field of design (thinking), chances are you are aware of the debate on what exactly is design thinking and what is its relationship with design. It’s an important debate and here are my two cents.

Many designers condemn design thinking and they think it’s a fad — created by some designers as a marketing gimmick to excite clients and increase fee income. To use the designer Anthony Scully’s words “Design Thinking has been contrived to create an aura that surpasses even Design itself.”

There is also a certain element of fear that design discipline…


Innovation vs Creativity by Roy Blumenthal

Yes you’re reading it right. Stop being creative. Creativity is bad for organisations. It generates too many ideas that rarely get implemented and everyone is tired of that. No one, especially C-level managers, wants to listen to creative people when there is a ton of work to be done and other problems to be solved. So, what to do?

1/3 Stop being creative and start being innovative. What’s the difference? Creativity means ideas. Innovation means implementation.

2/3 Every time you have an idea, think of what are the first three experiments you want to make to test it. …

Elina Zheleva

Design Thinking, Service Design, Agile, Innovation, Customer Experience

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