Many companies and design agencies tend to look at the design and creativity stage from a narrow perspective. Usually, the design team is locked inside the ideas room with no contact with the rest of the world until it delivers the idea that gets approved by the client or project manager. Once a project goes into crisis mode and stress increases, creativity is given an even more limited role in the project. This can be a result of the high cost of developing creative concepts or a lack of confidence that creative people are able to handle pressure and provide help at this critical stage of the project. Additionally, generic models of the development process do not focus much on innovation and creativity, whether partially or holistically, leading enterprises such as BT, Microsoft, Starbucks, Xerox, Yahoo and others to provide the proof that an innovative design process can lead to a competitive position in the market — see “Eleven Lessons: Managing Design in Eleven Global Companies” (PDF). Over the last century, many incidents have provided examples that innovation and creativity can play an essential role for an organization in the midst of crisis. Creativity and innovation in such cases take a broader role outside of the ideas room. They can be applied to redesign a company’s structure and devise a more innovative process that leads to products that meet both creativity and business needs. One interesting example of this is LEGO, the world-famous toy manufacturer. By studying its crisis, lasting from 1993 to 2004, we’ll answer two main questions: Can creativity and innovation help an organization in its time of crisis? And can studying cases such as LEGO’s reveal a model for the broader role of creativity in an organization for other enterprises to follow?
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