Tag Archives: Human-centered Innovation

Free Human-Centered Innovation Tools

Free Human-Centered Innovation Tools

Innovation is all about change, and change only succeeds when people are put at the center. Therefore, people are also the heart of innovation.

It is because of this fact that I continue to build out my Human-Centered Innovation methodology and toolkit.

Keeping with the spirit of placing people at the center of innovation and change I have not only resurrected Blogging Innovation as Human-Centered Change & Innovation (follow us on LinkedIn) – complete with a weekly newsletter – but am also creating this curated collection of human-centered innovation tools.

I will give this page a start with some of my free tools from my Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit along with other well-know people-centric innovation tools.

BUT, this page will always be under construction, so please contact me with your suggestions of free tools to add.

Free Human-Centered Innovation Tools


1. Innovation Maturity Assessment

Free Innovation AuditTo help people evaluate their level of innovation maturity against the above graphic, I am sharing the 50 question innovation maturity assessment I use with clients. The assessment is most powerful when answers are gathered at multiple levels of the organization across several groups and several sites, but you can also fill it out yourself and get instant feedback – for FREE.

Click here to visit the Free Innovation Maturity Assessment page

Strategy Tools

1. Play-to-Win Strategy Canvas

Play-to-Win Strategy CanvasMatthew E. May designed and developed a wall canvas to be used when facilitating strategic choice-making with small teams. Over time, the canvas has evolved as he learned more and more about the art and discipline of strategy facilitation… what people struggle with most, where the resource of time is best spent, etc.

He introduced v3.0 of the canvas a few years ago in a short post, but here’s a little content to both explain what’s different (and why) and a few tips.

The first thing you’ll notice is that strategy-making is in three big steps:

1. Choose (strategic choices using the Play-to-Win framework)
2. Reverse Engineer (what must true for the choices to be good ones)
3. Test (validating what must be true is in fact true, or true enough)

Click here to download the free Play-to-Win wall size canvas

Click here to download the free Play-to-Win 11×17 canvas (aka A3)

Planning Tools

1. Visual Project Charter™

Visual Project Charter™The Visual Project Charter™ helps organizations:

  • Move beyond the Microsoft Word document
  • Make the creation of Project Charters more fun!
  • Kickoff projects in a more collaborative, more visual way
  • Structure dialogue to capture the project overview, project scope, project conditions and project approach

This download includes a premium 35″ x 56″ scalable PDF that I am making available to project managers for use in planning their projects in a more visual and collaborative way for greater alignment, accountability, and more successful outcomes.

The download will also include a JPEG version for use with online whiteboarding tools like Miro, Mural, Lucidspark and Microsoft Whiteboard for when your sticky notes need to be virtual.

Click here to get the Visual Project Charter™ for free

2. Business Model Canvas

Business Model CanvasThe Business Model Canvas is a popular tool from Strategyzer than can be used collaboratively to sketch out and iterate on potential business models for a new business or innovation opportunity. Why use the Business Model Canvas?

  • Map Existing Business Models – Visualize and communicate a simple story of your business model.
  • Design New Business Models – Use the canvas to explore new business models whether you are a start-up or an existing business.
  • Manage a Portfolio of Business Models – Use the canvas to easily juggle between “Explore” and “Exploit” business models.

Click to visit Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas download page

People & Culture

1. Nine Innovation Roles Card Deck

Nine Innovation RolesI’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every single person is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role at which they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.

Click here to visit the Nine Innovation Roles free gifts page
(multiple languages available)


1. Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation

Eight I's of Infinite InnovationThe Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation framework is designed to be a continuous learning process, one without end as the outputs of one round become inputs for the next round. It’s also a relatively new guiding framework for organizations to use, so if you have thoughts on how to make it even better, please let me know in the comments. The framework is also ideally suited to power a wave of new organizational transformations that are coming as an increasing number of organizations (including Hallmark) begin to move from a product-centered organizational structure to a customer needs-centered organizational structure. The power of this new approach is that it focuses the organization on delivering the solutions that customers need as their needs continue to change, instead of focusing only on how to make a particular product (or set of products) better.

Click here to download the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation PDF from LinkedIn
(go into fullscreen mode to download)

2. Building a Global Sensing Network

Building a Global Sensing NetworkThe purpose of a global sensing network is to allow an organization to collect and connect the partial insights and ideas that will form the basis of the organization’s next generation of customer solutions. This involves collecting and connecting:

  1. Customer Insights
  2. Core Technology Trends
  3. Adjacent Technology Trends
  4. Distant technology trends
  5. Local social mutations
  6. Expert Communities

Click to read more about Building a Global Sensing Network

Click to access this framework as a scalable 11″x17″ PDF download

Prototyping & Testing Tools

1. The Experiment Canvas™

The Experiment CanvasThe Experiment Canvas™ is designed to help people instrument for learning fast in iterative new product development (NPD) or service development activities. The canvas will help you create new innovation possibilities in a more visual and collaborative way for greater alignment, accountability, and more successful outcomes.

Click to read more about The Experiment Canvas™

Click to download the Experiment Canvas™ as a 35″ x 56″ scalable FREE PDF poster

Add to this list of Free Human-Centered Innovation Tools

This page will always be under construction, so please contact me with your suggestions of free tools to add.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Why Sometimes Being Certifiable is a Good Thing

Certified Design Thinking ProfessionalRecently I became a Certified Design Thinking Professional (CDTP) through the Global Innovation Institute (GInI).

I’m sure you’ve probably heard someone say that an individual is certifiable. In the negative context of the word it means that an individual is “officially recognized as needing treatment for mental disorder” according to the Oxford Languages dictionary.

BUT, there is of course a positive meaning to the word certifiable as well – “able or needing to be certified.”

I’ve been doing human-centered design, or what some people refer to as ‘design thinking’, for more than twenty years – since I built Symantec’s first web-based technical support and customer service capabilities. But, despite decades of experience I’ve never bothered to get certified. So, why now?

Well, recently I finished building and launching a Design Thinking program for Oracle customers similar to Salesforce Ignite, Deloitte Greenhouse, EY Wavespace, SAP Leonardo, etc. Now as I explore a range of potential new opportunities to tackle next, there is one inescapable fact that presents itself very quickly:

Companies are extremely risk averse as they evaluate potential vendors and employees, and so they place a great deal of value on diplomas and certifications as a way of decreasing the perceived risk of hiring the services of a new employee or contractor.

This is valuable to the individual as well, but certifications help to increase the knowledge and confidence for the person too. And, tools like the Applied Innovation Master Book (AInMB) contain not only valuable information about design thinking, but also about innovation in the bargain. And, the Applied Innovation Master Book gives you one place to jump back to for selecting the methods you want to leverage each time you engage in a new design challenge.

So, does it make sense to get certified in everything you could possibly get certified on?

Maybe not. But, there are definitely times where being certifiable is a good thing.

Keep innovating!

Accelerate your change and transformation success

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Fix the Problem or Design it Out?

Fix the Problem or Design it Out?

Let’s start with the problem.

According to The Plastic Pollution Coalition (January 3, 2017) – “It’s National Drinking Straw Day! Each day, more than 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded in the U.S. alone. Plastic straws consistently make the top ten list of items found, according to Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup data. In the last three years, plastic straws have climbed the list to the Number 5 spot.”

The Paper Straw Movement

In response to this growing problem, in January California made it illegal to give customers plastic straws unless they expressly request one.

Another way some restaurants have tried to to fix this problem has been to replace plastic straws with paper straws.

Or then there is the tasty fix to the problem, the cookie straw.

Starbucks Cookie Straw

But there is another way to approach problem solving, and that is to design out the problem instead of trying to fix it.

Recently a barista at Starbucks accidentally gave me a lid on my water cup that I wasn’t expecting.

I had heard that Starbucks was planning to reduce their use of the iconic green plastic straw, but I kind of assumed that meant they were shifting to paper straws like some other quick serve restaurants, but that is not what they have in mind at all.

Starbucks is instead planning to eliminate the plastic straw.

Instead of focusing on the straw they instead chose to focus on the lid and design it in a way that a straw isn’t even necessary.

Starbucks Sippy Cup

So, next time you’re wrestling with a problem and trying to solve it, look at it in a slightly different way just for fun, try asking yourself how you could design the product, service, or experience (or all three) in order to design out the problem.

You may or may not get to a more viable, desirable, and feasible solution than trying to fix the problem.

But, looking at the problem from a range of different perspectives is always worth the effort.

Keep innovating!

Accelerate your change and transformation success

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.