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Finding the Voice of Humanity-Centric Innovation

A People First Approach

Even great ideas can fall to the wayside when design doesn’t put people first, notes McKinsey in its blog, “Here’s why human-centric innovation is necessary.” Indeed, McKinsey points out that human considerations must be placed in the forefront as early as possible in the design process. In this way, deeper insights can be made and brands can connect better with their consumers. “By centering empathy and understanding in design research, companies can both reduce risk in the idea-generating stage and ensure people are at the heart of the process. These needs also include the needs of the planet, society, and what matters to us as human beings.”

Human centered design and innovation is often paired with customer experience practices to deliver on both points. Marrying the user design and customer experiences can help support both frameworks and create a more satisfying end-to-end customer journey. As McKinsey notes in it blog, “CX without design only gets you halfway,” “When transforming their business to prioritize CX, companies will have the most success by marrying CX insights with user-centered design methods of researching, defining opportunities, generating ideas, and prototyping before launching and scaling.” The result to this combined approach will be the renewed discovery of customer needs, designing solutions and delivering customer impact, says McKinsey.

Here’s to the Humans

All Things Innovation has looked at human-centered design from several angles. In “Connecting Human-Centered Design to Innovation,” we looked at how humanized design processes are centered around making products, services, and experiences more user-friendly, intuitive, and empathetic.

In “Humanity-Centric Innovation,” All Things Innovation’s Seth Adler had a chance to chat with Pete Dulcamara, Chief Scientist and Technical Vice President at Kimberly-Clark, a passionate proponent of the approach. Humanity-centric innovation is the idea of solving the biggest problems facing humanity in an economically viable way. Dulcamara is focused on how we as a society can make changes now for a better future for humanity.

Looking forward to FEI 2024? The conference, which will be held June 10 to 12, will feature a keynote session called “Lessons Learned From Actual Humanity-Centric Innovation,” presented by Milan Ivosevic, VP of R&D & Innovations, Devices; Charles Smith, Executive Vice President, Quality, Regulatory, Life Sciences and Innovation; and Lisa Fawcett, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Market Development, all with CooperSurgical. The Interdisciplinary Plenary Panel brings together innovation, R&D, strategy, and marketing disciplinarians who discuss how they best collaborate to ensure humanity-centric innovation. The CooperSurgical team showcases principles which we take forward into our interactive roundtable discussions which directly follow. Register for FEI 2024 here.

Leading the Way

Leading with humanity-centric innovation involves prioritizing the well-being and needs of people in the development of products, services, and strategies. We asked ChatGPT to prioritize the ways a company can embrace humanity-centric innovation:

  1. Understand Human Needs and Context: Conduct thorough research to understand the needs, desires, and challenges of your target audience. This includes considering cultural, social, and economic factors that influence their experiences.
  2. Empathy-Driven Design Thinking: Apply empathy-driven design thinking in product and service development. This involves putting yourself in the shoes of the end-users, understanding their emotions, and designing solutions that address real-life problems.
  3. Inclusive Design: Ensure that your products and services are accessible to a diverse range of users, including those with disabilities. Inclusive design considers the needs of individuals with different abilities, ages, and backgrounds.
  4. Ethical Considerations: Prioritize ethical considerations in all aspects of business, including data privacy, customer consent, and fair business practices. This builds trust with customers and contributes to a positive brand image.
  5. Sustainability and Social Responsibility: Embrace sustainable practices in product development, sourcing, and operations. Consider the environmental and social impact of your business activities, and communicate your commitment to corporate social responsibility.
  6. Human-Centered Technology: Develop and adopt technologies that enhance the human experience rather than replace or dehumanize it. Use technology to empower people, improve well-being, and create positive social impact.
  7. Employee Well-Being: Prioritize the well-being of employees by fostering a positive work culture, providing opportunities for professional development, and addressing work-life balance. Engage with employees to understand their needs and concerns.
  8. Community Engagement: Engage with local communities and consider the impact of your business on the communities in which you operate. Support community initiatives and contribute positively to the social fabric.
  9. Customer Feedback and Co-Creation: Actively seek and incorporate customer feedback in the innovation process. Involve customers in co-creation activities to ensure that your products and services align with their preferences and expectations.
  10. Education and Skill Development: Contribute to the development of human capital by investing in education and skill development initiatives. This can include providing training opportunities for employees and supporting educational programs in the communities you serve.
  11. Flexible and Inclusive Work Policies: Implement flexible work policies that accommodate diverse needs and promote work-life balance. Consider inclusivity in hiring practices and provide equal opportunities for all employees.
  12. Continuous Improvement: Embrace a culture of continuous improvement. Regularly reassess your practices, products, and services to ensure they align with the evolving needs and expectations of your customers and society.

Simply Human

By incorporating these principles into their approach, companies can lead with humanity-centric innovation, creating products and services that genuinely enhance the well-being of individuals and contribute positively to society. This approach not only aligns with ethical business practices but also strengthens the connection between the company, its brands and its customers.

All of these factors together or in part can drive innovation. As McKinsey writes, “Putting the ‘voice of the customer’ at the center of new product and service developments can help companies keep up with the rapidly changing market landscape. This focus helps them further understand unmet needs and pain points, which they can use to design and deliver innovative products and experiences.”

Video courtesy of NN group


  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

    View all posts

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