Intersections 2011 – Creative Business Summit

22 03 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intersections 2011 was a recent two-day conference at the Eden Project that explored the current trends driving business change and new opportunities for design practice. Over 200 delegates heard 45 experts, mavericks, entrepreneurs and thought leaders speak about key issues that are challenging businesses, public sector, and 3rd sector organisations.

Opening the conference, Jeremy Myerson, Professor of Design at RCA and Chair of the conference, began by looking back at the last Intersections conference in 2007. This was a similar event – a major UK design conference held a long period after any similar Design based conference. In 2007 the key message from the conference had been that the world had reached a watershed moment – and that complex times require designers with a greater repertoire. The key elements of this new design skillset was suggested as: –

  • Designer as Business Strategist – leading change via Design Thinking to tackle big issues
  • Designer as Co-Creator – rethinking the process to include wider disciplines and users to create more/better ideas
  • Designer as Rationalist – providing hard, technical solutions – believing humans can solve the problems of the world
  • Designer as Storyteller – Creating narratives that instill a vision of the future

It struck me that in 2011 Design Thinking has moved from theory into wider practice in the last 4 years. We still have the guru’s acting in the evangelist role for this school of thinking e.g. Professor Roger Martin of Rotman School of Management; Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO; and the UK Design Council. The public sector really has embraced design thinking and co-creation with some very successful results (DOTT Cornwall being an excellent example). However, large private sector companies seem to be getting left behind, and UK management schools seem to be lagging their North American and European counterparts in teaching the subject to future business leaders. This surprised me because in this post-economic-crisis period, large corporates and western governments have been promoting creativity and innovation as the way to re-invent western economies, and the way to compete against global competition e.g World Economic Forum, Davos, 2010 and 2011.

For me, the conference was inspiring, and six key themes emerged that I think will influence Business and Design over the next couple of years: –

1. ‘The world is at a NEW tipping point’.

4 years on from the last Intersections conference, and post economic crash, various speakers mentioned similar trends, including: –

  • A shift towards social values – social revolution not technological revolution – the emergence of Purpose within organisations
  • Public rejection of Capitalism and “Greed is Good” mentality
  • Asset Stripping is unacceptable and unsustainable
  • Fault-Lines are running through the world – creating ‘Wicked Problems’ (NB: this comment was made between the recent Egyptian uprising and the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami)

2. ‘No Straight Lines’.

Speaker Alan Moore of SMLXL captured this best, but again several speakers mentioned similar points of interest, including: –

  • Literacy and shared language across design / management disciplines is a limiting factor
  • Disruptive Innovations are making bigger impacts and embracing The Space / TheSystem / The Subjects
  • Value of diversity – The roles of MBA / Doctor / Entrepreneur / Product Designer becoming intertwined in developing solutions
  • There is no separate online or offline – only blended reality
  • Industrial Model was straight line thinking – Networked Model is a labrynth

3. ‘The Age of Networks’.

Nick Jankel of WeCreate introduced this theme on day one of the conference, but again other speakers referred to and returned to the subject, and key points included:-

  • Development of collaborative network tools – Cloud Apps
  • Networked Innovation is growing – within and across organisations
  • Collaboration IQ is becoming an important measure of performance
  • Collaboration across bigger networks is harder – but the results are bigger
  • Public / Private / 3rd Sector providers need to collaborate to solve the most complex problems in society
  • Use of Open Source and Creative Commons copyright is growing

4. ‘Visualisation’

Linked in many ways to the other key themes, speaker David McCandless championed the use of infographics and data visualisation to explore new directions for journalism and design. His talk demonstrated new ways that technology is enabling the presentation of data to support an argument. This is a key area where design can help management to ‘tell the story’ and create a vision for audiences. Key points in this theme included: –

  • Quantitative Information can be very interesting if presented well
  • Infotography – a new form of investigative journalism based on data trawling
  • Data is the new soil…
  • Visualisation supports the designer as storyteller model

5. ‘Nudge by Design’.

In his talk at the end of day one, David Kester – CEO of UK Design Council described how ‘nudge’ is growing as a discipline used to influence decision making, and referred to the recent book ‘Nudge – Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness’  by authors Thaler and Sunstein. Key points he mentioned include: –

  • Designers do this for a living – via providing Insights & Ideas Generation
  • ‘There is something in this Co-Design methodology’
  • ‘Hug a Politician’ i.e. gain political influence for your programmes

6. ‘Rethinking the Future’.

Speaker Josephine Green led in promoting this subject, but other speakers and the chairman referred to it as well, and it is probably the biggest take-away from the conference for most delegates. In this theme the following comments made the biggest impact with the audience: –

  • The world is in need of inspiring stories – The ability to tell them can be our greatest asset
  • There seems to be a British horror of the abstract, big-picture, strategic, philosophical thinker
  • We are moving from the hierarchical model of the industrial era towards the pancake model of the socio-ecological era
  • Social solutions and innovation are the challenges of our time – health; education; mobility

In summary, I think that Intersections 2011 was a very inspirational and important conference. The venue was superb – both practically and inspirationally. The speakers were excellent – thought provoking, entertaining and inspirational. The audience was an interesting mix of local, national and international visitors. But perhaps the biggest disappointment and surprise was that there were not more private sector and big corporate delegates at the meeting.  I believe that they have most to gain from adopting Design in the broader context of creativity and innovation that this conference presented. Maybe this lack of representation was due to event promotion that seemed to be focused on the design community – attracting independents, academics and students from within the discipline of Design – but not the CEO’s of the corporate world. Perhaps therein lies another opportunity, to take this message to a more influential audience – taking the key themes from Intersections11 and translating them into a language that the corporate/business audience can identify with more readily?

Note: The conference proceedings were recorded on video and should be made available to the public via the Intersections website shortly. For more info see: http://intersections2011.com

The first Intersections 2007 conference was recorded and podcasts from keynote sessions can be accessed via iTunes: –http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/intersections-podcast/id268553975

 

Why not contact us to explore how to approach these 6 key themes within your business / organisation?

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer, CULTIVAR Consulting


 

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Dott Cornwall : Design-Thinking in practice

21 11 2010

Dott Cornwall is bringing together local communities and world-class designers to work on projects that improve how communities in Cornwall live, work and play.

I was privileged to be able to interview Programme Director Andrea Siodmok and we chatted about the work they are doing.  She describes how this social enterprise is using Design and Design Thinking to help solve the problems faced by Cornwall’s communities.

The interview lasts about 20 minutes :-

Andrea Siodmok - Courtesy Design Council website

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Follow this link to audio file: –

Dott Cornwall : design thinking in practice

from Cultivar on Vimeo.

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For more information visit their website: Dott Cornwall

If you would like to discuss how Cultivar can help you to develop and implement Design Thinking in your organisation then please get in touch.

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer





Customer Experience Matters…

17 11 2010

You can also get an audio version of this podcast here: Listen!

Increasingly companies are not just offering customers products, but a combination of product AND service. Even for those mainly selling products, the customer purchase experience is so important that companies like Apple, Nike, Adidas, AGA, Bose, and Bang & Olufsen are taking the lead by setting up their own stores. They want to connect with their end users and have more control within the overall customer experience. And after-sales service is a further key component of the overall package for many companies such as car and motor-cycle manufacturers, and for electronics/white/brown goods producers.

But whilst product development is usually carried out by dedicated R&D teams, service development is often ignored, or left to distribution partners. This ignores the fact that meeting ever increasing customer expectations is a key aspect of competitive differentiation, and is vital to both customer retention and generating word-of-mouth referrals.

Traditional service related organisations such as banks and restaurants are re-inventing how they deliver as the basis for retaining customers and winning new ones. And those within the public sector are beginning to wake up too. We now understand that there is a need to radically transform how we deliver public services because our economy cannot support the current cost of them. But no-one wants to pay less for a lower-quality service, so the exam question is :-

“how can we deliver a better quality service at lower cost?”

So Service Design is increasingly important to ALL organisations. Customer experience REALLY matters. Looking forward 10 years, meeting the needs of customers will only be delivered by radical change and re-inventing how service is delivered. For example, both Mercedes Benz and BMW are currently investing heavily to develop business models that rent vehicles to users by the hour instead of selling them a new car every 3-4 years. For more about this see this Economist report about Car2Go.

Is your organisation considering this? Will your next 5 year strategy embrace emerging technology and social trends to define how you will deliver a better customer experience than your competitors? Will it show how Authentic your business is? Will it embrace design-thinking as a way of engaging end-users? If not then perhaps it should?

If you would like to discuss how Cultivar can help you to develop and implement your own customer experience strategy then please get in touch.

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer





Design Thinking, Architecture and Interior Design

11 04 2010

Two years ago I wrote the following blog post: –

“Are your Employees like Battery Hens?”

The theme of this post was about the issue of workplace design and how it relates to happiness and motivation of your employees. I argued that I find only too often that workplace design is poor and uninspiring, leading to both poor motivation and poor levels of creativity and innovation in the workplace.

Later, in September 2008 I wrote the following blog post: –

“Business 2.0 – Delighting customers, shareholders and employees simultaneously”

The theme of this post was about embracing Business 2.0 to think again about how we organise our businesses, embrace technology to support home-working practices, and resulting in happier employees, greater productivity and innovation, and better profits and improved shareholder value.

Now I would like to link these two earlier posts to my recent thoughts on Design Thinking…

The office above is at leading design agency IDEO in San Francisco. Notice that it isn’t rows of cubicles, or bland desks, with poor lighting and ventilation.  This space is COOL.  Its designed as a social and collaborative space where groups or teams of various sizes can get together.  People can go away and work on things alone, but now when they get together they want something more than a 10×10 meeting room with a square table and four chairs. This type of environment not only supports creativity and innovation – it stimulates it!

Is your workspace like this? If not here is a link to a website where you can see 10 seriously cool designs for an office – perhaps this will inspire you :

“10 seeeeeriously cool workplaces”

So if you are seeerious about Design Thinking as a way of re-inventing your business, then why not engage a leading architect and interior designer to help? think of it differently – is it possibly something you thought was previously too expensive? but now maybe you should consider it as an investment?

Contact me for more information about how we can help bring design thinking, creativity and innovation to your business via our network of associates.

James Rock – MD & Chief Business Designer

CULTIVAR Consulting





The Art of Business Design 2.0

1 04 2010

I recently published a free eBook on the subject covering my philosophy of Authentic Design Thinking.

This covers Design Thinking and Authenticity, and how I believe that these are both crucial important elements in designing and/or redesigning business models that cope with the miriad of challenges of today, and position businesses to be the leading companies of tomorrow.

You can view and download your FREE copy of this book from Slideshare.net – just follow this link:-

The Art of Business Design 2.0

Don’t forget to share your comments about this subject below.

If you would like to discuss it in more detail and how it can apply to your business then contact me…

James Rock, Chief Business Designer – CULTIVAR Consulting





Inspired Thinking

29 03 2010

You can also get an audio version of this podcast here: LISTEN

If design schools are being hailed as the new business schools then perhaps we should be taking our inspiration from great designers instead of business gurus.

I was given a fantastic book for my recent birthday – its called DESIGN NOW! and is published by that great publisher of art books Taschen. I recommend it strongly…

DESIGN NOW! by TASCHEN Books

The book contains short biographies of todays top contemporary designers – global leaders in the field of cutting edge design, and covers some of their very best work.  Reading it is an inspiration, and some quotes from the top designers are worth reference – so here are my top 10 quotes that I think will inspire your Design Thinking :-

1. Werner Aisslinger – “design is creating the life of tomorrow – for me the most exciting profession”

2. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec – “our work frequently starts with an encounter”

3. Continuum – “we believe that design creates a relationship – the point of contact is an experience”

4. Stefan Diez – “one part of our job is making decisions between options – finding out what these are is the other part”

5. Tom Dixon – “I like to try to approach each project as a naive outsider… I work better when I am not encumbered by preconceptions”

6. James Dyson – “good design is about making something better than anything else that has gone before it”

7. Danny Venlet – “design is more than form and function, its a way of life”

8. Jonathan Ive – “we try to design and develop simple solutions for extremely complex problems”

9. Suntae Kim – “things communicate with us. I listen to, observe, and rearrange them”

10. Karim Rashid – “design is no longer a word or profession, it is a philosophy – a doctrine – a way of living – a modus operandi – a way of being – and will one day be seamless with existence”

I suggest you refer to these quotations as a source of inspiration when you are re-thinking about your business, its purpose, and how you can get more from it – in other words – think laterally…

For more information about The Art of Business Design, Authenticity, and Design Thinking contact me: CULTIVAR Consulting





Design Thinking and The Art of Business Design

3 03 2010

You can also get an audio version of this blogpost here: – Listen!

I have heard it said over the last year or so that Design Schools are the new Business Schools. Protagonists argue that this is because old school businesses are out-of-date, which is consistent with the “Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild” message coming from global business leaders at this years WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.

This trend will lead towards the growing application of Design Thinking in business design. This is a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result. In organization and management theory, design thinking forms part of the Architecture/Design/Anthropology (A/D/A) paradigm, which characterizes innovative, human-centered enterprises. This paradigm also focuses on a collaborative and iterative style of work and an abductive mode of thinking, compared to practices associated with the more traditional Mathematics/Economics/Psychology (M/E/P) management paradigm.

These principles are consistent with the adoption of Authenticity as a fundamental philosophy and culture around which a business can be designed in pursuit of its declared purpose. And by combining Design Thinking with Authenticity I believe we are seeing the rise of The Art of Business Design – creating the Avant Garde businesses of today, and most probably the successful ones of tomorrow.

However, businesses also need an architecture to provide structure and form, but by their very nature this architecture also need to be amorphous to a degree – allowing flexibility to bend to changing economic conditions, competition, emergence of new technologies, etc. So I advocate designing businesses and organisations using the “Authentic Business Architecture” – shown below: –

Copyright : Cultivar Consulting 2010

This Amoeba like architecture contains the essential elements of structure that are needed for a business to operate, but it recognises that when a business changes shape, then the constituent elements will all be affected to some degree, and need to flex accordingly.

So Business Design needs to be holistic, authentic, and abductive if it seeks to be creative and innovative in delivering its purpose effectively.

For more information about The Art of Business Design, Authenticity, and Design Thinking contact me : Cultivar Consulting