What is an Innovation Designer?

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All of our consultants—including the founders—use this title, while the roles we play in client projects and internally are adaptable. They are able to shift and change based on the specific needs of the project and team using an agile sprint-based project approach.

An Innovation Designer is a practitioner with a diverse toolkit of capabilities that enables them to support teams and organizations through the transition from where they are now to where they need to be tomorrow.

The Innovation Designer’s skills and tools are drawn from diverse fields of practice: human-centered design, business strategy, design research, organizational change, and learning. Innovation Designers can apply their tools to many diverse challenges and contexts, and are skilled in sharing knowledge of their tools and methods with their project teams.

The twelve competencies of an Innovation Designer:

  1. Innovation Leadership (inspiring, selling, pitching, reframing)
  2. Strategic Foresight and Innovation Strategy Development
  3. Design Research (ethnography, user and market research)
  4. Service Design (customer experience and back-office business process design)
  5. Product Development (Lean product development methods, from value propositions to minimum viable product)
  6. Visual Design (graphic design, illustration, information graphics)
  7. Writing and Storytelling (written, spoken, audio-visual)
  8. Process Design and Facilitation (programs, projects, workshops, and dialogue)
  9. Organizational and Culture Change (developmental evaluation, organizational design)
  10. Team Development & Coaching (formal and “just-in-time” learning)
  11. Business Design (business case development; viability and feasibility; analysis and design)
  12. Systemic Design (systems thinking, analysis, mapping/visualization and design of interventions)


I-shaped person vs. T-shaped person

The Innovation Designer is a T-shaped person, or a Generalizing Specialist. They will have depth of expertise in one or more of the above competencies (a “core competency”), with at least cross-functional awareness or a developing “edge competency” in others.

T-shaped people have the ability to think laterally, to connect and see patterns that deep specialization alone won’t reveal.


The Innovation Designer Capability Map.

We developed this tool to help individuals assess their unique combination of capabilities and experiences in the above twelve core competencies of an Innovation Designer.

The spider diagram helps visualize the blend of competencies of an Innovation Designer

This spider diagram maps an individual’s unique multi-disciplinary capabilities. Given this understanding of the combination of skills of each individual, we then cast our multidisciplinary project teams and recruit new team members in a way that will ensure we have the right mix of complementary capabilities every time and for every unique situation.


Why does the world need Innovation Designers?

The work of advancing innovation inside established organizations requires a systematic approach to engaging different levels of the organizational system in order to anticipate the kinds of challenges, blindspots and barriers that inevitably surface through innovation projects.

As innovation practitioners have experienced these barriers in a wide variety of contexts, they realize the need for more of the competencies above at some point. No school teaches all of these in a single program, and for many experienced practitioners they are learned through a journey of trial-and-error experience and lifelong learning in collaboration with others.

The challenges faced by organizations and institutions are becoming increasingly complex, interconnected and systemic. Innovation Designers are lateral thinkers, able to navigate the complexity, inspire, reframe, embrace ambiguity and prototype solutions. We need more of these people to meet the needs of the future — helping to transform products, services, business models, organizations, institutions and systems.


Get the Innovation Designer Capability Map.

You too can use this tool to map your skills and the skills of people on your team. What are your strengths? In what areas are you missing skills? Where do you want to grow? By understanding your unique multidisciplinary skill set, and the combinations across your team, you can ensure the right makeup of team members, and bring in any missing skills.

Download The Moment’s Innovation Designer Capability Map for free here. We love to see maps—share your completed map with us on twitter, or send us a note to

Map Your Innovation Skills