The Business of Design @ the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum

I’m here at the Times Warner Center in New York where 500 of the most connected design professionals in the city are here to listen to four leading interdisciplinary professionals speak on the subject of how business can implement design to spur creativity, innovation and better business practices.

The event has been organised by the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (CHDNM) as part of National Design Week (NDW). NDW launched in 2006 and since then it’s grown to incorporate events across the country.

NDW brings together design professionals to explore what it means to be a designer and what the future role of design in business might be.

Panel:
Chair: Daniel Pink – Author or A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Bill Moggridge, 2009 Lifetime Achievement National Design Award Winner, co-founder of IDEO
Sam Lucente, Vice President of Design, Hewlett-Packard Company
Jeanne Liedtka, Professor, University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business

Below is a summary of the day’s presentations.

Q1 – You’re all working at the intersection of business and design, how did you get here?

GL – Was looking for more exciting way of developing strategy. I became interested in the relationship of design to invoking behaviour that we want to achieve.
BM – Discovered industrial design as balance of artisan and science.
SL – Studied science and was interested in art. Was looking for combination and found industrial design. Then studied computer science to understand how to shape software as well as materials and processes for shaping products

Q2 – In business world how much of these two cultures come together? Maintaining products and innovative ideas?

GL – Looked at successful leaders over three years. Those who could navigate two worlds and navigate corporate bureaucracy were most successful. The ‘smiling submersives’ – quietly worked out how to inhabit the system and get things done. There is always a tension between inventing the new and sustaining the old. Base business that fuels the business. Organisations are designed for predictability and control. This gets in the way when you ask people to innovate. How do we help managers?

SL – Seeks out people who can innovate. Corporations that innovates makes room for those people: those who can navigate, find funding for projects, etc.
They typically have diverse educational backgrounds.

SL described three area of design which are significant to his practice: Design to differentiate, simplify and innovate. Typically designers focus on differentiation – strong brand etc. Simplify is about efficiency across product lines, where are there efficiencies in production across the supply chain? How can that supply chain serve the customer? Innovate – This requires repetitive, scalable tools to innovate: ie: new markets, design thinking models – observation, imperatives around insights, principals based on insights, then into solutions

BM – innovation lives in overlap between technology, business, people (middle of)
Where you start? Design starts from people and moves into the overlap. Balance between three is always present. In the past, someone else was telling designers how to bridge these areas. Now you have business teams which include these interpreters allowing innovation to flourish. Interdisciplinary practice, interest in collaboration

SL – collaboration and passion to change
Capture the collective IQ of a team. When you apply the right methods you can innovate

Q3 – How and when do we develop these abilities?

GL – The dominate value in business is often ‘don’t look stupid, don’t make mistakes’. This leads to a set of choices which narrows opportunity

Q4 – How do you innovate in large companies without looking stupid?
GL – You don’t do it through a “prove it to me in a powerpoint presentation”! In that case you’re using data from the past to justify future uses. Empowering people to do things, prototype small, demonstrate success.
We use experience mapping – notion that greatest opportunity begins by getting rid of the lows.

SL – Design can lower the risk of innovation. Design archetypes – build reference model for what a particular business would create in the next year. Financial models, physical model that takes supply chain into consideration – showed them how to innovate without risk. We now have 40 business cases which now lower the risk of innovation.

Audience question – guess who! At the moment there is a rise in literature which situates design within new business models, two of the authors of these methods are here today, Verganti’s design driven innovation is another. We’ve been talking about risk aversion; not being seen to make mistakes. Yet one of the most innovative industries of our time, software development, has been built outsourcing mistakes and testing them in a broader environment for a long time. Sam spoke earlier about a collective IQ of a team. We’re living in an increasingly participatory culture so what I’m interested in is how do you incorporate a larger basis, a larger collective crowdsourced intelligence into the design process?

SL – Changes are so disruptive that centralisation doesn’t work. We focus on wiring the social network – halo video conferencing systems, sharing data real time – understand what you’re creating from an emotional point of view – strong brand story into design behaviours. Working with competitors who are also partners, industry standard components. Work with customers in collaborative ways.

BM – Crowdsourcing is the success of the decade. People having fun designing their own contributions. Structure that enables crowdsourcing needs to be understood

GL- Dialogue and debate – you need to be able to engage in dialogue – hypothesis-driven discussion and invite doubters in and ask what data they need

Question from audience: How do you repurpose failure within business?

BM – Prototyping is an essential tool, it embraces failure. You want to see what’s wrong quickly and move on. Incremental innovation has something behind it while radical innovation you don’t have that basis. Embracing failure on the way to success.

DP – uses the example of writing a paper. Each draft represents prototyping and a type of failure – failure to achieve the final product in one go. Each draft is a way of testing the veracity of the final product

SL -Fail early. Products that can be described as conceptual failures can drive 70% of costs. HP have invested in immersive interaction. In infancy of this system.

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About us

This blog examines social media, cultural institutions and digital participation. It's based on the research projects Engaging with Social Media in Museums and New Literacy, New Audiences. Regular contributors are Angelina Russo, Lynda Kelly and Seb Chan

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