A couple in a modern living room, featuring Marvin Modern casement windows and Marvin Modern awning windows.
23 July 2021

What is Human-Centered Innovation?

Marvin’s director of design transformation discusses human-centered innovation and why it’s important for Marvin.

For the past several years, Marvin has been leveraging new approaches to creative problem solving and solution design, called human-centered innovation. The goal is to foster both a space of innovation and to create new muscles that allow us to tackle strategic challenges most aptly.

My name is Chris von Dohlen, and I’m the Director of Design Transformation at Marvin. I joined the Marvin team at the end of 2019 with the mission of helping everyone at Marvin become more familiar with human-centered innovation. We’re in the process of building a team of talented designers, strategists, and researchers to lead strategic initiatives and inspire other teams to apply HCI to their unique challenges.

What is Human-Centered Innovation (HCI)?

Human-centered innovation does what the name implies – focuses on people and their need as a main input. By starting with understanding people, we can more easily get past our own assumptions about what works and doesn’t. Human-centered innovation also focuses on knowing why people do what they do and how what they do fits into other activities they may have going on. For instance, to develop better windows and doors for our customers, inclusive of both the products and overall experience, we need to understand what role they play in the overall home experience, why people choose certain windows over others, and what needs windows and doors address.

But to bring new ideas to market, we can’t just focus on meeting our customers’ needs. As a business we need to be able to generate revenue and to be able to physically build the new innovative ideas. Thus, we have a holistic way we approach innovation. Marvin’s human-centered approach to innovation draws upon our ability to understand the needs of people, imagine the possibilities of technology, and define the requirements for business success, integrated in a way that creates new forms of value for our customers and end users.

Why is HCI important for Marvin?

To be even more innovative and impactful as a company, there are three key areas in which to build our innovation muscles:

Understand our customers – How might we better know and understand what our customers need, whether they be Marvin colleagues or those who buy our products? How might we better understand what they value and want from the Marvin brand and what type of interaction they crave?
Get inspired – How might we better be inspired by things going on outside of Marvin, either in the building industry or from other businesses that may be dealing with similar issues or opportunities? What are other ways people are experiencing products and services outside our industry that are reshaping our customers’ expectations?
Test our ideas – How might we quickly build and test innovative ideas with our customers in a way that increases our speed to market? How might we build confidence in our own solutions and de-risk the path to market?


In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be digging into each of the above topics with more detail, tips and tricks, and better ways to put them into practice – all in an effort to become a more innovative company.