Continuous innovation. How to switch to Development Mode.

Person holding a light bulb

Continuous innovation. How to switch to Development Mode.

If your organization has already found a relatively stable way to survive COVID-19, you must be probably wondering what the next step is. How to switch from survival mode to development mode and start projecting the future? The key is a culture of continuous innovation.

What is innovation?


The first crucial point we need to agree on is what we refer to when we talk about “innovating”. The alignment within the organization under a common language around the definition of innovation will allow us to focus our efforts in the same direction.

“Innovation” could be conceptually defined by these 4 elements:

  • proposes a new and different added value
  • this value is perceived by the client (internal and/or external)
  • it is difficult to replicate by others (why allocate resources in something that a competitor could develop fast -and even better- as soon as we launch it?)
  • it is sustainable (it is not merely a stroke of luck, but a practice rooted and permanent in the culture of the organization).

Why does innovation matter?


With the emergence of COVID-19, social distance, and lockdowns, have made organizations stagger as we had understood them until then. As a consequence, it was necessary to adapt to change, build a culture of remote work, and install new mindsets, habits, and processes.

By now, most organizations have managed to ensure the continuity of their business to survive the pandemic (at least for the first stage). But this is no longer enough. The “New Normal” is here to stay -at least for the next 18 months or more- and organizations need to find new opportunities and take advantage of the “white spaces” that the new scenario presents them if they want to grow.

Wondering how to find these “white spaces”? Use the graphic below to start thinking about new opportunities for your organization in the new scenario, develop a future vision, and define your innovation strategy.

White space opportunities

How to create value with Design Thinking?


Design Thinking is a systematic approach that provides tools and processes that help to transform abstract ideas into concrete and validated solutions in order to generate value, always starting from the problems and needs of the client (both internal and external client).

Generic Design Thinking model

The main points of this model are:

  • Generate value for the client and for the business: Validate the value of your idea, both for the client and for the business, during the different stages of the journey.
  • Carry out an ethnographic work: It is not about asking the client what he/she needs, but of observing and understanding, based on behavioral aspects, his/her problems, and unmet needs. The client does not always know how to express what he/ she needs or wants.
  • Make mistakes quickly to succeed sooner: Design Thinking proposes an iterative learning and development approach where validation instances are permanent. This reduces the risk regarding new initiatives for the business.
  • Focus on creating and not on discovering: There is no “truth” that we must unmask out there, but multiple possibilities that emerge from the “white spaces”.


The Design Thinking process feeds the innovation funnel in your company, allowing you to create ideas that will be implemented later in agile development cycles based on agile methodologies.

What are Agile Methodologies?

“In the current era of volatility, there is no other way than to reinvent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility”. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Agile methodologies constitute a framework made up of concepts, processes, and tools to manage product development projects based on iterative value delivery and permanent customer feedback.

The keys are:

  • Delivery of small parts
  • Validated by the client
  • Autonomous teams
  • Working collaboratively
  • Continuous learning


Ideating and designing products and services in Design Thinking methodological cycles without integrating this process with agile development or, on the other hand, developing products and services in an “agile way” without first ideating and designing them with Design Thinking methods, breaks the natural flow of the funnel of innovation.

Design Thinking and Agile Methodologies complement and enhance each other. But, if you really want to accelerate the transformation and make it sustainable, add Agile Change Management to this equation.

Continuous Innovation

How to accelerate transformation with Agile Change Management?


If your objective is to build an organization that is characterized by permanent innovation, you need to generate a culture of innovation. You must build an ecosystem that facilitates creativity supported by purpose-consistent structures, policies, processes, and systems as well as developing the necessary mindset in your teams.

 Agile Change Management supports the development of the innovation cycles or sprints, and helps scale them in the organization while, at the same time, Agile Change Management works on the structural level, preparing the organization culture to sustain this new way of working. Multidimensional work ensures and accelerates transformation.

Cultural transformation process

A“typical”  Transformation Plan could look like this:


Week 1: Innovation Strategy and Vision 

  • Identification of innovation opportunities for the organization
  • Alignment of leaders under the same Vision
  • Definition of milestones
  • Clarity of new habits and behaviors needed (leaders and teams)


Starting on week 2 (beginning of first innovation cycle): Immediate action and rapid impact

  • Set the first interdisciplinary team
  • Design Thinking and Agile “on the job” training
  • The team participating and doing
  • Reinforcement  of the first innovation project on track
  • Scalability with a new team and innovation project in the next cycle
  • Agile Change Management focused on facilitating the development of the cycles


Starting on week 2 (5-6 months duration): Structural transformation

  • Assessment  of the current culture
  • Identification of the cultural gap
  • Strategy and Structural Change Plan
  • Cultural indicators installed
  • Internal Change Management Team trained
  • Design of Cultural Transformation Plans
  • Learning sessions and plan adjustments

What results can we expect?


Feedback and integrated work between Design Thinking, Agile methodologies, and Agile Change Management is the key to achieve a genuine, and sustainable transformation.

The other key point is the dynamics of the deployment. Innovation and development cycles allow us to show that things are actually happening, generate milestones, and achieve impact (with the message that this implies to the people in the organization).

Without structural change, it is very difficult to scale and make new practices sustainable. The two dimensions are fundamental, necessary, and must be carried out consistently. It is not just about creating a response to COVID-19, but about laying the foundations of the culture you need for the permanent growth of your organization.

Author: Carolina Sordelli



Brown, Tim (2009).  “Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation”, published by Harper Business.


Ogilvie, Tim & Liedtka, Jeanne (2001). “Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers”, published by Columbia University Press.


Sheahan, Peter & Williamson, Julie (2016). “Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice”.


Board of Innovation (June 2020). “Low Touch Economy Report”.


Pinder, Mike (2020). “The Change of Agile? Not, quite the opposite”.


IMCG Consulting Group (2018), “Continue Change Management Model”.

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