Sunday, 30 December 2012

3D Printing: Bigger than the Internet & the Future of Manufacturing

In 2007 in an address to the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore on the future of design in 2058 and how it will effect global economies the focus to the government of Singapore to pursue: Art, Design & Engineering and 3D Printing education and technologies for it's population. And this isn't anything that people haven't been aware of since 1986 when the 1st commercial 3D Printing company came into existence  The technology, developed many years earlier by who else? The military: for engineers in the field.

Art, 3D Design and Printing has been identified by Venture Beat as the technology of the future and FT has dubbed it "bigger than the internet" in a 10 minute video on how this will take place.

Of course the question is: how is your firm addressing or even embracing this technologies and design directions? Miss it and be in the same position as firms who didn't embrace the cotton gin during the beginning of the industrial revolution or companies who didn't embrace the internet in the late 90's.

The details on how this has occurred in 2012 and how it will continue to occur in 2013 and beyond plus  the companies involved in summary form is right here:

Thursday, 20 December 2012

McKinsey's Innovation Battle Test - Ignore Design: THE Game Changer

McKinsey, the bastion for strategy recently detailed how to "Battle Test Your Innovation Strategy". What did it end up detailing? Nothing related to innovation at all. Would Alessi or Bodum be surprised by McKinsey's mentality? No. Because innovation isn't about "lead or leap" it is about (design) disruption and McKinsey misses the mark.

Reactive questions posed by McKinsey focus on: competitive landscapes, price points supply-side dynamics vs. customer demand, geographies or segments, segment overlap, going out of business in 1-3yrs, responses to attackers, next versions and extensions and how to start building now? Living in the present.

Only one 9 questions discussed  address a Proactive, future oriented game changing mentality: How much of a lead or leap—technological or otherwise—must we make in the next generation of our product or service? and still only addressing the "next" iteration, not true "innovation" detailing how design, via physical products or virtual services will impact the direction of the firm. Does Bodun, Lacie, Alessi or any other design-centric firm ignore such factors? No. Ignoring the key factor of innovation: zigging when others zag, pushing when others are catching up and ignoring group think is what determines battle successful firms.

Has your firm embed these mentalities in its DNA? Is failure a mechanism for growth or a limiter of experimentation which ultimately drives trial and error - the battle scars of innovation because the rest, while absolutely necessarily is just good sense - strategic awareness not an embedded innovation mentality for battlefield success.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Why do developing nations innovate faster? They NEED to.

Mother is the necessity of invention and the famous TED talk, and one of the most inspirational given by William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind shows just how. With no food, no power, and not even able to speak English William innovated broken parts of garbage to build a windmill that saved his village, provided irrigation and actually generated enough power to charge peoples  cell phones for which he created a revenue stream again saving his family from starvation. How? He NEEDED to. Does your company have this need? Are your employees empowered to benefit from that which they disrupt, create and innovate?

This is why some developing nations innovate faster. They have to. Because if they don't those in need will perish. A recent fast company article on this demonstrates how in a simple progression of:
1) It must be directly relevant to the situation
2) Local fixes work faster than top down
3) Long term investment wins: the R&D model
4) Working with the government is actually good: increases roll-out

makes this possible and gives some clues how you can do this inside your organization as well.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Spotting Disruption, Designing for Disruption

Recently we were asked, "Anyone can design for a disruption, but how do you spot one" and to this, we realized that the fundamental question is not how do you spot one, it is how do you make one, and more specifically, how can this be accomplished via design.

A recent Fast Company article set's the tone, "Four Ways To Spot Markets Ripe For Disruption" and clearly articulates:
1) Are there Workarounds
2) Are values at conflict
3) Is there inertia and how is this effected by switching costs
4) Should and want are 2 different things and can be leveraged

These are the building blocks for design disruption, for specific tactics and successes, this is the domain of good design and a whole other topic all together.

Monday, 19 November 2012

What's "Design", What's "Innovation"? - TED's Top 50 Luminaries

What's "Design", What's "Innovation"? How may times have clients, partners, investors asked this? We've compiled a list of the top 50 TED lectures by some of our friends and worlds top luminaries to help our clients, partners, and investors better understand these two crucial topics and now we share this here.

Paul Bennett: Design is in the details   
Showing a series of inspiring, unusual and playful products, British branding and design guru Paul Bennett explains that design doesn't have to be about grand gestures, but can solve small, universal and overlooked problems.   
Chris Bangle - Head of BMW Design: Great cars are Art   
American designer Chris Bangle explains his philosophy that car design is an art form in its own right, with an entertaining -- and ultimately moving -- account of the BMW Group's Deep Blue project, intended to create the SUV of the future.   
Stefan Sagmeister: Yes, design can make you happy   
Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister takes the audience on a whimsical journey through moments of his life that made him happy -- and notes how many of these moments have to do with good design.
David Kelley: The future of design is human-centered   
IDEO's David Kelley says that product design has become much less about the hardware and more about the user experience. He shows video of this new, broader approach, including footage from the Prada store in New York.    TED2002   
Philippe Starck: Design and destiny - Why design?   
Designer Philippe Starck -- with no pretty slides to show -- spends 18 minutes reaching for the very roots of the question "Why design?" Listen carefully for one perfect mantra for all of us, genius or not.   
Paola Antonelli: Treating design as art   
Paola Antonelli, design curator at New York's Museum of Modern Art, wants to spread her appreciation of design -- in all shapes and forms -- around the world.   
Yves Behar: Creating objects that tell stories   
Designer Yves Behar digs up his creative roots to discuss some of the iconic objects he's created (the Leaf lamp, the Jawbone headset). Then he turns to the witty, surprising, elegant objects he's working on now -- including the "$100 laptop."   
Stefan Sagmeister: Things I have learned in my life so far   
Rockstar designer Stefan Sagmeister delivers a short, witty talk on life lessons, expressed through surprising modes of design (including ... inflatable monkeys?).   
Isaac Mizrahi: Fashion, passion, and about a million other things   
Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi spins through a dizzying array of inspirations -- from '50s pinups to a fleeting glimpse of a hole in a shirt that makes him shout "Stop the cab!" Inside this rambling talk are real clues to living a happy, creative life.   
Eva Zeisel: The playful search for beauty   
The ceramics designer Eva Zeisel looks back on a 75-year career. What keeps her work as fresh today (her latest line debuted in 2008) as in 1926? Her sense of play and beauty, and her drive for adventure. Listen for stories from a rich, colorful life.   
John Maeda: My journey in design, from tofu to RISD   
Designer John Maeda talks about his path from a Seattle tofu factory to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he became president in 2008. Maeda, a tireless experimenter and a witty observer, explores the crucial moment when design met computers.   
Rob Forbes: Ways of seeing   
Rob Forbes, the founder of Design Within Reach, shows a gallery of snapshots that inform his way of seeing the world. Charming juxtapositions, found art, urban patterns -- this slideshow will open your eyes to the world around you.   
David Carson: Design, discovery and humor   
Great design is a never-ending journey of discovery -- for which it helps to pack a healthy sense of humor. Sociologist and surfer-turned-designer David Carson walks through a gorgeous (and often quite funny) slide deck of his work and found images.   
Milton Glaser: How great design makes ideas new   
From the TED archives: The legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser dives deep into a new painting inspired by Piero della Francesca. From here, he muses on what makes a convincing poster, by breaking down an idea and making it new.   
Don Norman: The three ways that good design makes you happy   
In this talk from 2003, design critic Don Norman turns his incisive eye toward beauty, fun, pleasure and emotion, as he looks at design that makes people happy. He names the three emotional cues that a well-designed product must hit to succeed.   
Jacek Utko: Can design save the newspaper?   
Jacek Utko is an extraordinary Polish newspaper designer whose redesigns for papers in Eastern Europe not only win awards, but increase circulation by up to 100%. Can good design save the newspaper? It just might.   
Niels Diffrient: Rethinking the way we sit down   
Design legend Niels Diffrient talks about his life in industrial design (and the reason he became a designer instead of a jet pilot). He details his quest to completely rethink the office chair starting from one fundamental data set: the human body.   
Eames Demetrios: The design genius of Charles + Ray Eames   
The legendary design team Charles and Ray Eames made films, houses and classic midcentury modern furniture. Eames Demetrios, their grandson, shows rarely seen films and archival footage in a lively, loving tribute to their creative process.   
Tim Brown: Designers, think big!   
Tim Brown says the design profession is preoccupied with creating nifty, fashionable objects -- even as pressing questions like clean water access show it has a bigger role to play. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory "design thinking."   
Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off   
Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook. He explains the often overlooked value of time off and shows the innovative projects inspired by his time in Bali.   
Mathieu Lehanneur: Science-inspired design   
Naming science as his chief inspiration, Mathieu Lehanneur shows a selection of his ingenious designs -- an interactive noise-neutralizing ball, an antibiotic course in one layered pill, asthma treatment that reminds kids to take it, a living air filter, a living-room fish farm and more.   
Marian Bantjes: Intricate beauty by design    
In graphic design, Marian Bantjes says, throwing your individuality into a project is heresy. She explains how she built her career doing just that, bringing her signature delicate illustrations to storefronts, valentines and even genetic diagrams.   
David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization   
David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut -- and it may just change the way we see the world.   
Seth Godin: This is broken   
Why are so many things broken? In a hilarious talk from the 2006 Gel conference, Seth Godin gives a tour of things poorly designed, the 7 reasons why they are that way, and how to fix them.   
Eben Bayer: Are mushrooms the new plastic?   
Product designer Eben Bayer reveals his recipe for a new, fungus-based packaging material that protects fragile stuff like furniture, plasma screens -- and the environment.   
R.A. Mashelkar: Breakthrough designs for ultra-low-cost products   
Engineer RA Mashelkar shares three stories of ultra-low-cost design from India that use bottom-up rethinking, and some clever engineering, to bring expensive products (cars, prosthetics) into the realm of the possible for everyone.   
Emily Pilloton: Teaching design for change   
Designer Emily Pilloton moved to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina, to engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation. She's teaching a design-build class called Studio H that engages high schoolers' minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.   
Thomas Thwaites: How I built a toaster -- from scratch   
It takes an entire civilization to build a toaster. Designer Thomas Thwaites found out the hard way, by attempting to build one from scratch: mining ore for steel, deriving plastic from oil ... it's frankly amazing he got as far as he got. A parable of our interconnected society, for designers and consumers alike.   
Hans Rosling: The magic washing machine   
What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading.   
Thomas Heatherwick: Building the Seed Cathedral   
A future more beautiful? Architect Thomas Heatherwick shows five recent projects featuring ingenious bio-inspired designs. Some are remakes of the ordinary: a bus, a bridge, a power station ... And one is an extraordinary pavilion, the Seed Cathedral, a celebration of growth and light.   
Richard Seymour: How beauty feels   
A story, a work of art, a face, a designed object -- how do we tell that something is beautiful?  And why does it matter so much to us? Designer Richard Seymour explores our response to beauty and the surprising power of objects that exhibit it.   
Bjarke Ingels: Designing Hedonistic sustainability   
Bjarke Ingels' architecture is luxurious, sustainable and community-driven. At TEDxEast he shows us his playful designs, from a factory chimney that blows smoke rings to a ski slope built atop a waste processing plant.   
Kelli Anderson: Design to challenge reality   
Kelli Anderson shatters our expectations about reality by injecting humor and surprise into everyday objects. At TEDxPhoenix she shares her disruptive and clever designs.   
Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.   
Chip Kidd doesn't judge books by their cover, he creates covers that embody the book -- and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. In one of the funniest talks from TED2012, he shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs. <i>(From The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell.)</i>   
Tal Golesworthy: How I designed & repaired my own heart   
Tal Golesworthy is a boiler engineer -- he knows piping and plumbing. When he needed surgery to repair a life-threatening problem with his aorta, he mixed his engineering skills with his doctors' medical knowledge to design a better repair job.   
David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence   
Is your school or workplace divided into "creatives" versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create... guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell   
Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you   
"What does your chair say about what you value? Designer Sebastian Deterding shows how our visions of morality and what the good life is are reflected in the design of objects around us.   
John Hodgman: Design, explained.   
John Hodgman, comedian and resident expert, "explains" the design of three iconic modern objects. From The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell   
John Hockenberry: We are all designers   
Journalist John Hockenberry tells a personal story inspired by a pair of flashy wheels in a wheelchair-parts catalogue -- and how they showed him the value of designing a life of intent. From The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell.   
Michael Hansmeyer: Building unimaginable shapes   
Inspired by cell division, Michael Hansmeyer writes algorithms that design outrageously fascinating shapes and forms with millions of facets. No person could draft them by hand, but they're buildable -- and they could revolutionize the way we think of architectural form.   
Timothy Prestero: Design for people, not awards   
Timothy Prestero thought he'd designed the perfect incubator for newborns in the developing world -- but his team learned a hard lesson when it failed to go into production. A manifesto on the importance of designing for real-world use, rather than accolades.   
Kent Larson: Brilliant designs fiting more people in cities
How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.   
Tim Leberecht: 3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand   
The days are past (if they ever existed) when a person, company or brand could tightly control their reputation -- online chatter and spin mean that if you're relevant, there's a constant, free-form conversation happening about you that you have no control over. Tim Leberecht offers three big ideas about accepting that loss of control, even designing for it -- and using it as an impetus to recommit to your values.   
Saul Griffith: Hardware solutions to everyday problems   
Inventor and MacArthur fellow Saul Griffith shares some innovative ideas from his lab -- from "smart rope" to a house-sized kite for towing large loads.

Charles Leadbeater : The rise of the amateur professional   
In this deceptively casual talk, Charles Leadbeater weaves a tight argument  that innovation isn't just for professionals anymore. Passionate amateurs, using new tools, are creating products and paradigms that companies can't.   
Jeff Bezos: After the gold rush, there's innovation ahead   
The dot-com boom and bust is often compared to the Gold Rush. But founder Jeff Bezos says it's more like the early days of the electric industry.   
Evgeny Morozov: How the Net aids dictatorships   
TED Fellow and journalist Evgeny Morozov punctures what he calls "iPod liberalism" -- the assumption that tech innovation always promotes freedom, democracy -- with chilling examples of ways the Internet helps oppressive regimes stifle dissent.   
Johanna Blakley: Lessons from fashion's free culture   
Copyright law's grip on film, music and software barely touches the fashion industry ... and fashion benefits in both innovation and sales, says Johanna Blakley. At TEDxUSC 2010, she talks about what all creative industries can learn from fashion's free culture.   
Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums   
Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education -- and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become.   
Nirmalya Kumar: India's invisible innovation   
Can India become a global hub for innovation? Nirmalya Kumar thinks it already has. He details four types of "invisible innovation" currently coming out of India and explains why companies that used to just outsource manufacturing jobs are starting to move top management positions overseas, too.   
Daniel Kraft: Medicine's Innovation future?
There's an app for that    At TEDxMaastricht, Daniel Kraft offers a fast-paced look at the next few years of innovations in medicine, powered by new tools, tests and apps that bring diagnostic information right to the patient's bedside.   
Edward Tenner: Unintended consequences   
Every new invention changes the world -- in ways both intentional and unexpected. Historian Edward Tenner tells stories that illustrate the under-appreciated gap between our ability to innovate and our ability to foresee the consequences.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Want double digit growth? Design Disruption is the way.

When Harvard Business Review speaks, people tend to listen. Especially when phrases like double digit growth are bantered about. In a recent HBS Article entitled "The Idea that led to Double Digit Growth" past Chair and CEO of Medtronic, Bill Bill George describes how his firm consistently was a leader in their field and simplistically, it's a +2 rule, two extra percentage points above the industry standard 10% invested in R&D each year. 

iGNITIATE blog entry for Double Digit Design Growth Gregory Polletta

Medtronic is a leader in specific technological tools and devices. They can be, for the most part, not considered a "Design Disruption" firm even though, yes, their devices are designed, engineered, and launched as products. Medtronic is a healthcare technology firm. But, they clearly adopt a strong R&D window, a specific design and innovation launch process and have embedded in the organization a DNA of breakthroughs. How? Three simple rules: 

1) increasing R&D budget from 9% to almost 12% of revenue. 
2) separate venture group from existing business units - no fiefdom politics
3) selected acquisitions of new technologies to expand into related product categories. 
4) top executives supported the ventures group spending time in the labs with them, understanding their work, and championing the adoption of venture labs investments

So how does this translate into firms not steeped in technological advancement or the development of game changing business models? How does this work within the areas of "design" specific products? Surprisingly Tom Ford has a very specific approach as detailed in "Design and Business Insights from Tom Ford" and enumerated as: 
1)   Once your on top, you're on the bottom
2)   Design is an architecture exercise. 
3) Design disruption comes from doubt and questioning
4) Success =  work and obsession: relentless drive, focus, passion and toughness 
5) Business = a "survival mechanism”
6) There is no retire 
7) THE difficulty is creating and disrupting on demand
8) creating a specific design team identity &  which is different or individual

R&D and Design are a mix that when carefully applied produce results beyond what only 1 can specifically achieve on it's own. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Focus Groups Kill Innovation? Half Empty Half Full.

We've all heard the phrase, the glass is half empty or half full depending on how you look at it. True. But what if the customer isn't thirsty? 

In the case of Focus Groups and the Innovation Engine in the recent article in Fast Company, naturally, once again the definition of innovation is forgotten and Joseph Schumpeter is spinning because the underlying assumption is that customers naturally know what they want, can articulate it, and or want to. The later part is the key to this article and many others related to demand, elastic price demand determination of innovations, and of course ignoring design, design art and if customers know what they want before it is even presented. 

Regardless, the key is, and always has been, what if the customer is not thirsty for it, for a new product innovation, a new glass a new car, a new anything. Will any focus group help this? 

Yes. No. Who knows. But surely ideas and innovations come from people. Individuals. Groups. And without focus of some sort, no new innovations come into existence. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Richard Branson Gets Design does your firm?

Recently at an meeting with senior level managers at a large USA based multinational firm, the question was asked, which of these names do you recognize: Picasso, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Phillippe Starck, Charles Eames, Frank Gehry, Giorgio Armani, and about 10 others. The overwhelming score, less than 30%. Then the women in the room were asked. The score jumped to over 80%. When the names of contemporary international designers were added again, the scores where miniscule, yet again, the women scored significantly higher. Why? Does design not matter in the America's? No, but it is certainly  not as important as in Europe and unless you are a branded international design super star, you name is not likely to ring very loudly in the America's. 

In a recent interview Richard Branson details some of the reasons why design matter and who he's working with. Can the CEO and C-Level executives at your firm say the same? How embedded is the design process in how your firm conceptualizes, and launches new products? And clearly, are they any where near as integrated and sexy as Virgin? Just take a look at the typical interiors of their planes, trains and of course advertising. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Additive Manufacturing, Means Design Breakthroughs

Paper or Plastic? Three objects changed your entire working life and you don't even know it: the IBM 3800 Laser printer in 1976? The Hewlett Packard DeskJet in 1988? 1984's 3D System Corp's "One" 3D printer, and now it's changing again with Additive Manufacturing and it's a 3 Billion dollar industry. Artisan sculpting and design with paper, plastic, molds, etc, as a function to product development and expect that rapid prototyping as the last step? And it can be, but integrated design, engineering and output effects every firm that operates in the step to expect the but how does this effect any new product development. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Great Innovations Fail due to Ecosystems? No. Chasms

Ever wonder why some new products gain market acceptance much slower than others? Or why products that are clearly breakthrough never seem to take off to the level they can clearly attain? The reason? It's not vision, it's not quality, it is as simple as design acceptance. Acceptance based on specific financial involvement. Because good products are everywhere, but great products take a lot more investment plain and simple and it isn't ecosystem involvement.

Recently an article called Why Great Innovations Fail: It's All in the Ecosystem attempted to describe, based on the book The Wide Lens by
Ron Adner, the some of the reasons why "Innovations" many of which are clearly NPD launches, failed, or at the least were difficult adoptions. Examples included, Michelin's tires with internal sensors that cost the typical garage 70K in equipment just to repair. Yes, 10's of thousands of dollars investment needed to fix a subset of high end users tires. More we have Digital Cinema requiring your local theater to invest 70K per screen and of course Amazon and their "conditions in the ecosystem that made joining the long-awaited e-book revolution a more attractive proposition for publishers" better known as revenue sharing or at the worst predatory pricing to entice adoption. Is this all? No. Naturally we are then lead to the mother of all "innovations" - Apple's iPod where DRM and the deals with all the major record labels because of the DRM is ignored - THE key to why the iPod took off. Somehow the security of the encryption and DRM software, code, that links purchases to devices, THE reason why the entire iPod "ecosystem" exists, how it was designed, how the laws were changed to allow for this, etc., are left off the table. The Key architectural design component that makes the entire "ecosystem" exist.

Oddly, you might guess, is this enough? To have an ecosystem? The advice: “It is no longer enough to manage your innovation. Now you must manage your innovation ecosystem,” which is what designers have known from the beginning. You don't just design the object, you manufacture the object, you own the distribution, you serve the customer and you never rely on the bankers to determine success or failure.

This is what is communicated in Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, and what we at iGNITIATE have focused on well before the iPod, Digital Cinema or Auto Fix tires hit the market and the reason is simple, innovation means breakthroughs, full market changing efforts, eg. the entire music distribution and delivery system of iTunes as launched right along with the earliest versions of iTunes. When the whole ecosystem is prepared from day 1, great "innovations" are much more likely to turn into profitable NPD endeavors.

For more, visit our other examples, and successes at

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Design Dichotomies: Sexy Simple East Design & Overly West Design

Often with hyper aware clients, the idea of globalization, but in particular regional design differences comes up. The biggest question: why should we care? When really the discussion should be revolving around the question: why should we not take this into account. 

A perfect example of this are the designs of Braun and the treatment of these designs in on the Japanese version of Braun’s website as the cleanliness and simplicity speaks for itself. More, one critic has urged that the peaceful transition of images to functions of the site is THE basis for the tone that clearly sets these design objects apart from others in the market especially when the firm in question is a German design and manufacturing firm.

Investigating the Braun History also communicated grace and history ( obviously, in Japanese) versus the fully English version of the US Braun website which literally speaks for itself - no need to discuss the obvious. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Design for Better, Simpler, Cheaper Packaging = 500K British Pounds Savings Yearly

How far does design extend into the enterprise? All the way to the format of packaging a sandwich. How does this effect ROI? Well when your selling more than a million sandwiches a day, every inch of packaging counts and more specifically where the data on that package is placed, means seconds for checkout staff. A design function. Definitely. TESCO in the uk saved more than 500k British pounds after simplifying design and the placement of that  product label. As described by Sir Terry Leahy, past CEO of TESCO describes in his book and described here. 

Simple examples of the design work being completed by Dove and L’Oreal are great examples and even the advanced R&D design work of Sunstar Butler amongst others show the necessity to push forward on materials and manufacturing capabilities.


And this isn't a new topic, especially in the world of packaging as described and detailed by Smashing Magazine's Packaging Simplicity Article where even the placement of logo can effect the way, end users, in the case of checkout workers, can effect the time it takes to scan customers items. Thus simplicity isn't just for management, or even packaging design, but must begin with the 1st steps of the design, review and release process.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Building your firm into a design powerhouse

What has been a consistent message is that design and utilizing design as a competitive advantave for your firm is not to be ignored within todays environment. The question is of course how can this be acomplished. And without pain, infighting and jockying at the board level. More and more board level positions are going to design professionals cross trained in at least one other dicipline: engineering, strategy, operations, or manufacturing.

Some key factors include:
1. Have A vision and strategy that is well-articulated and understood by its organization - why design is important, how the firm will utilize it and the process for making that happen
2. Developing leadership that is capable and committed to driving its vision - promoting design executives within the organization providing they are focused and capabale of executing on ROI oriented design efforts
3. Creating an organization that is structured and resourced for success - developing and executing on specific phase gates, external engagement, etc
4. Cultivating a talent pool that is diverse in design disciplines and deployed at key points of functional integration -  hiring, training and retraining people with at least a dual design & operations background with at least 2 areas of expertiese, Design and engineering, operations, finance, etc. 
5. Fostering a culture that embraces the myriad dimensions of design - even if it is divisional bakeoffs for who has the best cookies, this is a simplistic yet important factor in continually building and creative and competitive environment

Our friends at Fast Company come through once again by detailing some of the basic steps of how to make this a reality inside your organization. The full article can be seen here: 6 Keys For Turning Your Company Into A Design Powerhouse although strangely firms such as Apple, Braun, Samsung, Unilieve, Frog, etc., are all missing as they are non-US centric and as we have seen by many US magazines, if it isn't US oriented it is just not important which should be one of THE major tennants in any design centric strategy - "Don't forget the US is NOT the center of the universe!"

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Design Disruption isn't just for designers - the business model canvas (BMC)

Design disruption isn't just for objects and information but also the representation of that information. This has been called info-graphics, data visualization, information architecture. What is important is design disruption or more accurately the visualization of design disruptions are what is at stake. Quantifiable accurate? Measurable visually? Absolutely. And there are tools and techniques to see these disruptions in practice.

How is this achieved? With tools such as BCM and the resulting end product - a clean representation of how  utilizing design disruption methods effect ROI for firms employing these models as described here in this example of BCM as applied to Dow Corning.

More on this in the future where we will see visually how ROI for firms employing disruptive design out perform organizations who do not.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Corporate Design Challenges - 90yrs of Braun

Normally product companies work within their own fences, focusing on the applicability of the internal design team and within the framework set down by the CDO - Chief Design Officer or CPO - Chief Product Officer, relatively new positions within firms. Why? Marketing and Tecnology, CMO & CTO are often at odds with who "owns" the consumer. Why? Because firms often believe that customers know what they want - as Steve Jobs pattently knew: customers don't know what they want until they see it.

How do firms take advantage of this? By involving external designers, external experts and not relying solely on internal design navel gazing - something firms like Braun have been experts at for more than 90 years now. See how they do this.

These external and internal efforts, led by some of the best designers in Braun's history and certainly the world, such as Peter Behrens, and Dietrich Lubs and Ram's philosophy shaped an entire company, and more generation of designers. How many firms can say that? And how many firms are committed to keeping their R&D windows open? Not many. But those that do follow Braun's lead. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

5 Innovation Fail's - not to be ignored

Recently we were asked how exactly do you know where a New Product Development efforts fail point and more how can they apply to innovation processes? Naturally this means taking a hard look at "that which might destroy you can make you stronger" via the 5. 

Let's review: 
1) Innovation is episodic - and certainly not something you kill at the 1st sign of missing revenue. R&D does not come over night and New Venture teams do not produce cash flying out of their backside in one quarter
2) Resources are held hostage by incumbent businesses - let those who are in power determine where $$$ is spent on new development and they will always choose their own best interests: an instant innovation killer. 
3) Slamming innovation into the structure that you have - when an organization is not interested in growth by the architecture of the firm itself, trying to "make" innovation happen simply won't. 
4) Too little diversity of thought - when confronted with complex systems, a team with a broader range of potentially relevant experiences tends to do better as no one eye can see all possibilities. 
5) Treating assumptions like knowledge - relying on "managers of innovation" is just as stupid as asking Leonardo da Vinci to group think the Mona Lisa as managers are rewarded for being "right" when the easiest way to be right is to take very few risks and innovation has nothing to do with "few risks" occurs when direct refutable evidence is tested in the real world with real customers/partners/manufacturers/etc. 

The article in HBS online tells even more. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

When design matters - Google buys a design co.: Mike and Maaike

Naturally when the big players move, the market takes notice and taking center stage at Google in the physical design world are the advancements of Project Glass and the recent accquisition of design company Mike and Maaike into the Google fold.

Does this signify any radical shift of design importance in the hi-tech world? No. In the North American Market? Yes. Design-centric studios are at the center of technological direction, consumer value, brand perception, and of course functional development and product acceptance which we all understand as Apple soars to higher and higher levels of consumer demand because of it's aesthetic awareness putting a high value on it's internal design team and how it effects the bottom line. Should Google partner with Gucci? Prada? Hermes? Yes. Is it valuable? How can we measure this? As simple as the number of news, blog, and twitter postings of Google's aquistion of Mike and Maaike as reported in business specific publicatons such as Business insider, Tech News, CNN, C-Net, Fast Company Design, ID Magazine, etc. and naturally as in the design world as well.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

design and innovation gone wrong

It's not often that design especially in the European market goes wrong as the connection between design, art and innovation have such a tight link. It is even less often that we comment on this, but in the case of M&S London, it has not been more apparent.

In their recent Shwopping installation profiled here: capability for design is missed, the capability for art is ignored and a media and marketing opportunity is lost. Why? Design is ignored. Construction is minimal and execution is quick and dirty. Only in the photo above where clothes are laid out in a green color combination is there even the slightest indication of possibilities. What could have been? Anything depending on the designer / design team called in.

ROI oriented? Certainly not.
PR possibilities ignored? Certainly so.
A canvas for any number of designers to show M&S's commitment to design: Clearly.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

great ideas come in pairs, innovations come in processes? no.

The question is always the same, are "innovations" and better than ideas? only if they make it to market. Is there a formula? Well, in 2004 Leslie Martinich in Commercializing and Managing Innovations suggests there is a correlation and specifically based on capabilities of the internal team. Very natural. But what of the validity of the external design itself? David Lavenda in Why Great Ideas Come In Pairs suggests where there is one there is another. And in this Non-European, non artisan model the question is therefore ignored: Have Western companies still not quantified the mentality of design value?

Oddly CNN got it correct recently when an interviewee was quoted as saying, "It seems that only It is odd for me to represent design thinking and process in the debate when my education and training is as a scientist and MBA. The reason I hang around so many smart designers is that I don't think the old tricks alone will enable the business model innovation and system change we need. We need to borrow from both approaches to pave a new way. It is messy but necessary. Lets bring together the mad scientists and mad designers and see what happens."

The "innovation nation" is finally catching up with the rest of the world. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

design, innovation, commercialization: PARC?

The story has has always been the same: Xerox PARC, the labs where the basic building blocks of the modern day computing devices were born: Ethernet, WSYIWYG editors, laser printing, postscript, Small Talk, e-paper, and so many others, has notoriously been associated with bobbling the ball: failing to innovate. But not any longer. Why?

PARC is a standalone - it survives or dies on the technology  it creates.  How? Focus on the Business Models and the products will follow. A very US centric model, but non-the less, it keeps PARC going. read more....

Thursday, 12 April 2012

So you want to be a design powerhouse?

Fast Company, never to be outdone and probably one of THE largest sources for links in our blog seems to keep turning it out: Details and specifics on how leading US firms face design as a strategic tool and keys to becoming a powerhouse in one easy step. Well not just one.

The basics have never been simpler, however the nuances are the devils in the details and more, what most firms underestimate:

Naturally the article is completely US centric regardless IF the companies profiled in the Corporate Design Index ship internationally as there isn't one CEO that can deny LVMH and Samsung run rings around many of the firms listed and are not even mentioned in the article. Why? US firms are US design centric where Alessi & RADO know the world is their design canvas. Similar is the forwarding thinking work past projects with Louis Vuitton and the Topiade project.

The full article is here.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Lytro - Innovation by definition is Marketing a Breakthrough

More and more the definition of innovation is being mangled by mainstream media and without going into who Schumpeter is and why he basically started it all, sufice it to say, without marketing, branding, and of course design as a primary component, no "invention" would ever make it out to be "innovated" and so is the case with the Lytro.

And the folks at Fast Company once again lock down the basics and some of the details of how this has come to be. See the full article here. Why is this all so important? Simplicity of design, simplicity of use, simplicity of experience and of course due to the full change in "picture taking" usage, the object sells itself and THAT is practically built into the word "innovation" - and Schumpeter would be proud!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Design Innovation Isn't Just Balls

Often we are asked, "what is design innovation" and naturally the answer is juggling a bowling ball, a pink pong ball on fire and a chainsaw that is on. This is a very visceral answer to a challenging question which cannot be possibly described in any other way, without of course pulling out a pencil and bar napkin. More, the nature of design innovation has it's roots quite deep in that of "commercialization" and not just invention - THE key component to deign success.

Detailed here are some of the basic notions and of course capabilities of the design innovation process which all need careful juggled for true market breakthroughs. Another example is that of iGNITIATE's ShaRing system - a past success and design possibility for fun and interaction between those coming in contact with each other.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Power Pylon Design - The New Landscape of Britain?

How can design transform a country(side) in one motion? Bringing aesthetics as well as functional benefit to a truly worn out design but not necessarily a worn out function? Yes. The new Power Pylon design competition in Britain shows just that value.

A competition put on by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Department of Energy shows just what can be done to move forward, utilize basic materials and make a substantial impact on the way design can transform a country(side)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Design Disruption shouldn't ignore Business Model Disruption

Design disruption is often a function of form, sometimes function and a lot of luck, but business model disruption has a much larger focus on full marketplace shift - if leaders are focused on it. In "Business Model Design: (a) Disruption Case Study" we see quite a few examples of how leaders can take on this challenge and embrace competitive advantage for their firms.

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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

the 10 steps of innovaton failure

Previous research into why innovation fails shows us the necessity to not focus directly on outcomes which is the domain of NPD but the general capability to generate and quantify the creation of "innovations" that break molds for next steps in the NPD to take place.

Top 10 examples of innovation blocks and their related NPD difficulties:
1) IF YOU DON'T TRACK YOU LOOSE: Innovations are not accidental and ignoring tracking is a recipie for disaster just like ignoring the necessity for group calendars and centralized project management tracking. Buy or develop an idea management system and there are many in the marketplace at this time.
2) REMOVE FEAR: Remove fear surrounding "the new" because Innovation itself is disruptive and that has the possibility to fail. Even changing packaging causes upheval but is necessary. Is a new packaging project innovation? it all depends. If people fear failing, innovation will not take place.
3) PART OF PERFORMANCE CHECKS: Without innovation being specifically part of the performance review system it will not take place and this is NOT something that can be done across the whole organization. Can any person on the shop floor, board room or cafeteria be an innovator? Yes. Should their salary and career performance be based on this? No.
4) AN ARTICULATED INNOVATION ENVIRONMENT: A specific and clearly articulated innovation process is what creates new possibilities for increased revenue and operating efficiencies. Do not let it take over with too many steps, phasegates, etc., as that is NPD. Making sure everyone understands this as well as his or her role in the process is absolutely necessary.
5) ALIGNMENT: If innovation is not carefully aligned with corporate strategy it is useless even IF that means that certain groups get preferential "innovation" treatment such as R&D groups being able to be freer in their experimentation, etc.
6) IGNORING THE ENVIRONMENT EQUALS FAILURE: Ignoring situational awareness and not supporting people to to scan the environment for new trends, technologies and changes in customer mindsets is the key to NPD failure, but not necessarily innovation failure. Understanding and creating a working environment of identifying and working towards goals past a 1-2yr window is the key to NPD success. Being aware of 3-5yr windows is innovation success
7) BEING RIGID STIFLES INNOVATION: When an organization, process, NPD or Innovation organization is too ridgid innovation is surely to fail and in many cases NPD will even fail. Build in organizational looseness so everyone is free to explore new possibilities and collaborate with others inside and outside the organization.
DON'T IGNORE THE OUTLIERS (10-80-10): Ignoring 10,80,10 is a sure fire way to kill "innovation" or more aptly NPD. 10% of ideas just won't make it. 80% will and these are easily in the NPD cycle, where as 10% the true outliers the ones no one will risk are exactly the ones that might transform an entire organization. Without a process for handling the outlier ideas that don't fit the strategy organizations let competitors win.
9) FOCUSED IDEATION IS NPD NOT INNOVATION: Attempting to focus ideation is NPD, overly restrictive criteria for NPD stifles ideation and perpetuate assumptions and mindsets from the past. Ignoring the need to fully break and rebuild models and assumptions of what "should be" is the basis for innovation. Clearly locking down market and success-related parameters is NPD thinking which is valuable for product line elongation but not innovation.
10) NOT EVERYONE IS AN INNOVATOR: Accepting that not everyone can be at the center of the Innovation cycle. NPD teams are project teams and need different tools and different mindsets from innovation teams who are on the edge and therefore taking much more of a risk when it comes to bringing innovations to market. Provide necessary training and coaching for innovation teams to transition to NPD teams is key.