Kelly Dawson is a strategic thinker, driving innovation by discovering unmet needs with global consumers, as well as defining longer-term horizon opportunities. Previously a Design Partner for Unilever, working on global sustainability programs for some of the world’s best-known brands. Before Unilever, she led innovation pro-jects for brands such as Samsung and BT. An accomplished leader with almost 20 years’ experience, able to convert abstract strategies and insights into innovation.

Head of Insight & Innovation

Kelly Dawson

Kelly Dawson

Kinneir Dufort

Does corporate innovation need a methodology?

A structured approach to innovation and an innovation framework, in particular, helps to guide and direct everybody in a team. However, no single framework is likely to suit the array of innovation types that can happen in corporations, for example, long-term challenges vs. quick wins for the next 1-2 years. This is a challenge that can often hinder in-novation potential. Rigid frameworks can be an aspect that can stifle the freedom and flexibility required for innovation. Instinct is a powerful aspect of innovation and ‘discovering the new’ – and quite the opposite of process.
However, it is difficult to navigate teams in the same direction with-out a guide on where you are heading. You can only move as fast as those you take with you. A ‘must have’ innovation capability is the discovery of insights – it is the single most important element; it all starts here. Whether the methodology is ethnography, video diaries, one-to-one discussions with consumers, this stage of uncovering and ‘discovering the why’ is often overlooked and underinvested. The discovery of insights is ultimately the foundation for ideas to grow from.
To encourage participation in the innovation process, I would advise every team member to get more involved in hearing from real people around the world. Hearing and witnessing first-hand the challenges that people incur is invaluable - and no survey or quant can provide the rich-ness of meeting people first-hand to understand what matters most. Secondly, encouraging a forum to explore ideas is a great way to democratize the process. Yes, the innovation workshop has become ‘corporate theatre’ in some way, but it is important to gain everyone’s perspectives and input to pull together mixed disciplines and skillsets [ ... ]

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