Successful innovation requires balancing various – at times conflicting – interests. In research and practice alike we observe imbalances and tensions due to the dichotomies of open versus closed, feasible versus desirable, managerial versus entrepreneurial or technology-push versus market-pull. Trying to respond to these tensions, managers often struggle and cause even more imbalances and tensions. Furthermore, many organizations are not well equipped to integrate the rising influence of digital technologies, compensate for the scarcity and depletion of resources as well as find adequate answers to the apparent success of entrepreneurial ventures. With the replacement of pure product innovation by product-service systems (Porter & Heppelmann, 2014) a comprehensive, system-oriented way of thinking is needed.
Such demand relates closely to the notion of power at various levels. If not one company or unit alone is responsible for the success or failure of innovation, if many parties have to be integrated and their respective needs have to be taken into account, the overall complexity increases manifold. Addressing these dichotomies, bridging the tensions that arise along the innovation process, and creating adequate organizational responses require a new way of thinking and working.
Design Thinking has been heralded by many scholars (Brown, 2008; Dorst & Cross, 2001; Liedtka & Mintzberg, 2006) as a powerful new approach to enhance innovation within and across organizations by combining the creative and the analytical mind (Martin, 2009); creating products and services that are both profitable and humanly satisfying (Boland & Collopy, 2004). At the same time, its collaborative and human-driven approach helps many organizations to overcome barriers to innovation (Mirow et al., 2012). Whilst some authors suggest that designers can stimulate change in organizations due to their positive attitude towards change itself (Michlewski, 2008), very little attention has been dedicated to the role of leadership and the complexity of organizational change processes associated with a design-led innovation approach. Furthermore, the different streams of research on organizations, innovation, technology, management and design have remained rather separated. An interdisciplinary approach to address the different "engines of innovation" comprehensively is completely missing.
In light of all this, organizations do not seem well equipped to find "the next big thing", despite hundreds of publications that describe the process of innovation (Beckman & Barry, 2007). As organizations struggle to balance exploration with exploitation (March, 1991) or research-driven with customer-focused approaches, many firms seem to embrace strict methods and processes as a the preferred choice to deal with an uncertain future. However, while a firm can adopt processes and learn new innovation practices over time, it is the climate and mindset for innovation that will ultimately help to achieve business excellence and innovation objectives at a deeper and more sustainable level.
In this sub-theme we consider and critically examine the various paths that managers and their organizations take when developing an idea towards an innovation. We are interested to better understand how innovation managers can more efficiently manage the tensions arising along the innovation journey. We propose that a human-centered or design thinking oriented perspective can help organizations to better cope with these challenges. Contributions are invited from the fields of innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking, organizational behavior, business model innovation and collaboration.
Therefore, we invite papers for this sub-theme on the topics of:How to create a culture/climate for innovation where creativity is fostered but business aspects not neglected?