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Engaged Thinking: Building Human Centered Organizations Driven by Purposeful Innovation

Engaged thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation. It means: Purpose-driven leadership, engaged employees, building a culture of sustainable innovation, and shared prosperity with consumers.

Engaged thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation. It is an organizational framework used to engage consumers and employees from design to launch of products and services.

Product and service development will have as its objective the creation of a holistic solution to meet the functional and emotional needs of consumers.

Through the empowerment and engagement of employees, the total experiences and knowledge of an organization can be leveraged to design products and services driven by the user’s journey.

Engaged thinking ultimately empowers the consumer then to better interact with and manage the products and services that have been designed with his/her story in mind.

Engaged Thinking specifically seek to engage intellectual capital assets of an organization across the full spectrum of innovation activities.

Intellectual capital considers the role of human capital or knowledge and skillsets of employees within the organization, consumer capital or the knowledge and experiences of consumers, and the structural capital or organizational systems that support innovation.

Human Capital refers to the knowledge and skills within an organization that can be leveraged to create value.

Consumer Capital includes the relationships developed by an organization with consumers, that can be leveraged across the innovation value chain-specifically, to design products that holistically increase the quality of life for consumers.

Structural Capital refers to the associated organizational processes and systems (learning and knowledge management processes), to enable employees and connect to consumers.

At a macro level the goal is to:

  1. Define the concept of engaged thinking.

  2. Consider the role of engaged thinking in your organizational context.

  3. Create a contextually relevant engagement continuum to engage employees and your consumers in innovation activities.

  4. Understand the role of appreciative leadership in engaged thinking.

  5. Assess how open innovation can be used to leverage the knowledge and competencies of external partners.

At a micro level the objective is to:

  1. Develop a knowledge management strategy for your organization.

  2. Define the learning organization and determine how to build an organization that values learning and knowledge sharing.

  3. Develop appropriate learning strategies to engage your assets in innovation activities.

  4. Consider how engaged thinking can drive innovation for the purpose of behaviour change for your consumers.

  5. Design products for effective consumer engagement and positive impact adhering to the 5Ps of people, planet, partnerships, prosperity, and transparent profit.

The path to embedding engaged thinking within your organization begins with leadership and ends with engaged consumers-including opportunities to leverage and empower employees across the value chain; requires fostering a culture of learning and knowledge sharing including with external stakeholders; thinking larger through systems thinking; and designing products that drive positive behavior change without impacting planetary health.

Use the below checklists to guide and build toward engaged thinking in your context:


  1. Employees should be able to identify with the vision and values of the organization.

  2. A sense of service beyond the organization, the idea of impactful work, and the value of consumer engagement should be conveyed to employees.

  3. Organizations should craft the employee experience based on the holistic needs, values, and goals of employees.

  4. Peer to peer connectivity should be enabled from the point on onboarding to ensure that employees have access to the needed mentorship and networks to perform well and be well within the organization.

  5. Opportunities should be provided for ideation, experimentation, learning, feedback, and analysis, to employees at all levels of the organization.

  6. Employees should be recognized and rewarded for their contributions to the organization.

  7. Assessments, feedback, and accountability will ensure that the organization learns to exceed goal achievement and that employees continue to feel engaged and connected to the organization.


  1. At the simplest level, consumers can be encouraged to provide their feedback regarding problems or unmet needs.

  2. Consideration of the whole consumer will encourage product/service design based on demographics, goals and value based expectations, psychological factors, socio-cultural drivers, and informed by past experiences.

  3. Experienced consumers can be engaged in the ideation, solution design and dissemination stages.

  4. At the highest level of engagement, the goal is to empower consumers to self-manage their lives through their journey with a product or service.

  5. End of life product management strategies should ensure that consumers can effectively manage and extend the life of their products and materials through closed loop recycling-reducing their footprint and enhancing the value of your organization's brand.


  1. A focus on the learning organization including the needed supporting systems/processes, should drive the development of competencies in systematic problem solving, experimentation, learning from their past lessons, looking beyond organizational boundaries for trends and opportunities, and broadly disseminating knowledge.

  2. Transparency with stakeholders including employees and customers, will signal that integrity and openness about challenges and mistakes are important to the organization and its leadership.

  3. Access to leadership will ensure that employees have the opportunity to share their concerns directly with management. The ability to move across levels of the organization can be visibly demonstrated through leadership engagement of employees.

Ultimately, Engaged Thinking is about people who strive for purposeful impact within their organizations, for their consumers, and our communities. It is about valuing and leveraging the knowledge of employees, to drive innovation that solves the problems of consumers and in ways that consumers want, as well as address the challenges that exist within our global communities.


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