This article is taken from MovesTheNeedle site, by Brant Cooper

In the past, we’ve discussed the history of innovation, what it means to be innovative, and some of the challenges facing organizations when it comes to straight up innovation.

But now, it’s time to talk about something more specific… lean innovation.
While understanding the need for innovation at the enterprise level is important, the word innovation alone does not paint the full picture of what needs to occur in order for an organization to harness the power of “entrepreneurial spirit” and effect the permanent, transformational change of your company, so that it survives and thrives in the 21st Century.

Lean Innovation Definition

At Moves The Needle, we define lean innovation as “reducing waste in the discovery, creation, and delivering of new value to customers.”
We base Lean Innovation principles upon the 3 Es of Lean Innovation: Empathy, Experiments and Evidence.
And in practice, we combine three important ideas: design thinking, Lean Startup, and agile methodology.
When facing uncertainty, we need processes that allow us to optimize learning, not just execution.
Methods are needed that focus on the customer experience, allow us to adapt to new information, and help us make decisions based on market-based evidence.
Applying these principles or methodologies throughout an enterprise helps mitigate the risk of producing products or services no one wants, and allows the allocation of capital and resources to ideas that create value.


Design thinking is a way of problem solving that evolved out of applying the scientific method to the process of design.
In this way, lean innovation and design thinking go hand in hand.
When designing something, (ie: a technology, a product, a marketing material…) it is paramount to keep the needs of the end user in mind.
In the context of lean innovation, design thinking holds the empathy portion – the customer-centric focus and the first “E” in the 3 Es of Lean Innovation – which allows organizations to truly pull back the curtain on their customers and understand their desires and needs.
Centered around customer empathy and prototyping, design thinking is a compelling framework for ideation and the discovery of new value.
Instead of believing that we know what our customers need, as we attempt to serve them — why not seek to learn what they need through a variety of techniques that build customer empathy?
Design thinking is a step above “customer development” because it takes a real human approach to getting to the root of an intrinsic problem.
It’s not about sending out a yearly survey and then creating a bunch of features based on customer responses, but rather, the creation of multi-disciplinary, human-focused hypotheses that involve deep research and empathy work in order to find the best solutions.
But design thinking alone is not enough.
Classic design thinking is problem-focused and ends where ideation and prototyping solutions come into play.
Many large organizations tend to stop after prototyping solutions that indicate desirability, and subsequently revert to traditional development methodologies.
This is problematic because they might never actually solve the problem, nor is there any indication that the product would be successful in the marketplace. The “solution” is one aspect of often very complicated business models.
Where design thinking ends, Lean Startup begins.

To be continued …