Jax Wechsler

Scaffolding innovation with design artefacts that enable others to do their work

The following abstract is from a forthcoming  book chapter which is based on my post-graduate research. Below you can download the frameworks it discusses. These have a creative commons licence.


Organisations globally are turning to design-driven approaches to support their shift towards customer-centricity and to accomplish their innovation objectives. Design approaches are now applied within wicked and diverse domains such as health, government, sustainability, planning, social innovation and business. Irrespective of its domain, innovation occurs within complex social environments. Visual design artefacts provide valuable inputs into innovation processes providing instruments that support the social and interlinked demands of innovation. Design and innovation are not the same thing. Unlike design, innovation demands implementation. Especially in complex environments, designers need to consider how to best steward their designs towards implementation. Innovation results from the collective work of many, requiring collaboration and broad sense making over often, long periods of time. Consideration of the social context of innovation initiatives empowers designers to provide organisations with useful visual tools that support innovation processes. As organisations focus on developing design competency, there is a significant opportunity for designers to support innovation and its processes. It is critical that today’s graduates understand the important social nature of innovation and the mediatory and enabling possibilities of well-crafted visual artefacts. This chapter argues that well-crafted design artefacts, can support innovation processes, by helping organisational members to do their work, facilitating collective innovation outcomes. Like scaffolding supports construction workers, design artefacts can provide organisational members with enabling tools to deliver collective outcomes.

This chapter is divided into three parts. Part one introduces the role of design artefacts within innovation contexts. Part two presents an empirical case study located in an Australian telecommunications company exploring the mediatory and enabling roles of some specific design artefacts within an innovation project relying on human-centred design methods. The roles the design artefacts, including personas, journey maps, info-graphics, wire-frames and videos, played within an innovation initiative are discussed in relation to the project’s social context. In part three, a pedagogical framework is introduced. This framework provides a conceptual tool to help designers consider the social context of innovation initiatives, enabling them to deliver useful visual tools that scaffold innovation through supporting others to do their work. For illustrative purposes, the framework is introduced in relation to the case study.


Designing innovation scaffolds inspiration sheet which describes the different roles design artefacts can play within organisations.

Cheat sheet

Designing innovation scaffolds Canvas A3 is an A3 canvas to help you create design artefacts that support the people involved to do their work. This is an A4 version


© 2024 Jax Wechsler