lippincottWhen the CEO of the company that invented the Coca-Cola swirl and the Starbucks logo agrees to share some of his secrets, we should all listen carefully. Rick Wise of Lippincott writes about how his company melds creativity and practicality to make the most out of the design thinking approach.

Wise’ first strategy is to hire employees who are multi-faceted: his executives are a little bit creative and his designers are good businesspeople. Next, he looks at ways to bring these employees’ various interests and talents into the workplace. Whether their hobbies involve photography, fashion, or writing, a truly creative business will find ways to incorporate them into the creative process. In this way, experiences and emotions are brought into the work environment and the development process.

The Lippincott business model is based on democracy and collaboration. Meetings are open to any and all staff members who wish to express their opinions and brainstorm. After the initial ideas are batted around by a large group of people, the responsible department focuses the discussion and narrows down the possibilities. The company is careful to treat strategists and designers equally, including paying them equal salaries, to make it clear that both aspects of the process are equally important. Collaboration between the two disciplines is not mandated and broken down into tasks in a project management system; instead employees decide themselves how to divide up the work on a case-by-case basis.

The rules at Lippincott are purposely not rigid. Day-to-day operations allow for a lot of flexibility so that creativity can properly flourish. On the flip side, employees are treated to the big picture of goals and budgets so they know where the limits are.

Lippincott has had much success with these methods, using them to help clients go in new directions and broaden their outlook on the products they produce. How can your business incorporate these methods to foster creativity and ask “what if” instead of “why” and “how”?

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.