The reality of design research is it is perpetually challenging the status quo, sometimes in overt ways and sometimes in covert ways. In each instance, the researcher is developing his, her or a team’s capacity to develop meaningful propositions, processes and outcomes. It is this character that unites the series of five papers selected for issue 20:2. The range of design research slides from service design to architecture to organization design to SMEs and back to service design. There is an unexpected yet natural design research connection between them, that is innovation; it is the aspiration of all. The steps on their quest are presented for us to mindfully learn, enjoy, challenge and develop.