Innovation.  At PlusD2 it’s a word we pride ourselves on.

It goes into our work with great care and expertise in the hopes of providing you with an end result that is just that…innovative.

I’ll be sharing over a series of eight articles PlusD2’s theory and process of innovation as it relates to the product development and industrial design world.

Part Seven – What / So What / Now What

One of the biggest issues in the innovation process is ensuring that the development team is solving for the right problem. Oftentimes, decisions on what area of investigation should be pursued may be confused with other concerns, certainly of importance, but most likely not framed as the type of problem that could be examined for potential advancement and innovation. It’s difficult, if not impossible; to impose the same kinds of constraints on the innovation process as would be the case for a typical development cycle. Consider the now famous Einstein quote, “If you always think, like you always thought, you’ll always get, what you always got.” The innovation process itself needs to be disruptive to the typical approach to problem solving.

For needs-based innovation, framing the right problem to set the trajectory is critical to success. If too narrowly focused, many potential outcomes may be overlooked. Having the latitude to explore rich areas uncovered through human-centered research offers the development team the opportunity to move in directions that could not have been anticipated. However, that said, it’s also essential to stay focused, and oftentimes, to refocus throughout the process. A simple framing technique to use in order to accomplish this is Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning – what, so what, now what.

This is a reflective learning continuum that is so important to the innovation process. As articulated in a previous article, just as it’s of critical importance to constantly asking why? It’s also of critical importance to continuously be questioning where the development team is within the process, reframing and repositioning while moving forward and the Kolb Model offers an extremely simply mechanism to effectively question progress.

What? What is the problem trying to be solved, new opportunity to be uncovered (every problem exposes an opportunity)? This should always be able to be clearly articulated in one or two sentences.

So what? Why is this important? Why should anyone care? How will the benefit the lives of those involved?

Now what? Armed with the new information derived from human-centered research (HCR), how does the development team now plan a step-by-step strategy to move forward?

Of course, the simple answer for this last reflection is to model possible outcomes (prototypes) and test the hypothesis; yet, not be tied to any one of the possible outcomes being proposed and continuously circle back to question and reflect on the work accomplished to date.

PlusD2 is an Innovative Product Development Company based out of Chicago and Columbus.  Our motto – The Art of Creation and the Science of Imagination.

If you’d like to speak to us about a product development project we’d love to hear from you.  Email my team at