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dmi:Design Leadership Conference
#DLC17 Futureproof by Design

 

 

 

 

 

Conference Notes


The ‘DMI: Design Leadership Conference’ was an amazing opportunity to meet and learn from influential design leaders. From a student’s perspective, the conference allowed me not only to hear about best practices and the role of design in various organizations, but also to have personal and insightful conversations with experienced professionals. As a designer and an MBA student, the conference demonstrated and helped me understand how to better leverage the power of design in the business context. It was fascinating to hear about the challenges that design executives face and how they approach them while operating in the highly economic business environment. Attending this event was an extraordinary learning experience that will impact my future career steps after graduating.

Ron Gabay
HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management
MBA 2018



Conference Reflections

What has brought me to participate to the 2017 edition of the DMI Leadership Conference started a few years ago when I was an undergraduate design student at Politecnico di Milano. From the very first day they made clear that a good design is something that works well for its purpose, and it also adds that something that makes people love it. We were also taught that there was no magic behind it, but instead a rigorous method. As a matter of fact, what we were learning was progettare, which would translate designing as “to plan”. From that learning experience, my main takeaway was that I could design services and products that make people’s lives better, and I wanted to pursue this as my life and professional goal.


To do so, I moved to New York to attend the MS in Strategic Design and Management at Parsons School of Design, where I had the opportunity to explore more about design thinking’s potential to drive innovation, and how was fundamental for the business of the future to have designers on board. As a recent graduate, therefore approaching the beginning of my career, the DMI Conference was a first opportunity to participate in this conversation outside the academic world, and hear the perspective from “the real world”.  


In Minneapolis the attendance was split into two main categories: people who were advocating for design, and those people who were intrigued, but still confused or skeptical on its worthiness. We heard amazing speeches from some academics on Strategic Design and Design Thinking, starting with the explanation of their pure meaning, and continuing with the description of the different phases and mechanisms. We also heard real examples of leaders who have been actively applying design to run their companies’ growth. They reminded us that our interactions with the other people and the world have changed, and therefore our behavior as consumers too. So far we have been developing good ideas into great product or services. However, is this still good enough? As a matter of fact, nowadays it is more and more necessary to understand why we do things, and so to motivate the offer with purpose. Brands need to translate themselves in a more systematic way, that must be consistent in all actions, and be interpreted as such by the users.   


Design helps in this direction because it is human-centered, therefore helps to understand who we are talking to, by observing, listening and then interpreting them, in order to uncover the real problems that need to be solved. This also provides the opportunity to discover the motivations and desires that drive users’ behaviors. Design thinking also encourages a holistic approach, which makes us to think of our context as an interconnected system, and so it gives the tools to unbind complexity. Everything we do as both, providers and consumers, has a greater impact on the world. We are exposed by a greater quantity of opportunities, and in this moment our choice is determined by what gratify and drive us as real, social individuals.


The promise is that design has the potential to make us understand and choose the best direction that we want and need to pursue. If design thinking were embraced by more companies, and applied constantly and truthfully, the potential for innovation and positive impact could be disrupting. However, if so, a greater debate arose among the conversation: how will the designer position change in leadership innovation?


This is an open question that I’m thrilled to respond in the following years. At the conference I basically heard topics that I’ve discussed over and over again already in an academic context. I was there with a group of students, and together we belong to the first generation of creatives and entrepreneurs who have explicitly learnt and applied design thinking in school, and about to start our careers with a design-oriented mindset that will characterize the approach to our professional style. I’m excited to see where the general direction that this will make us take, and which opportunity it will unlock. During the conference I noticed that above the stage there was a big sign. I don’t know if it belonged to the location or was put on purpose by the conference staff, but I took it as a propitious message. It said “The World is Yours.”

Francesca Molteni
Parsons School of Design -The New School
MS Strategic Design and Management

 

 

 

 

DMI Design Leadership Conference - Notes

Sunday, 24th, 2017
Emerging Leaders Session for Entrepreneurs/Designers/Students

This session was built for emerging leaders in the area of design. Mauro Porcini, Liz Brown, John Stavig, Dan Wallace, and David Parsons did a magnificent job sharing not only their experiences, but encouraged the group of designers and students to:
- build a framework for one’s objectives
- never stop to be a thinker, observer, maker, and doer
- brand ourselves with our own uniqueness
- work in a holistic way not only personally, but professionally as well
- be authentic
- pay attention to the human aspect of communication and behavior
- study the context of every situation
- understand the competition
- think big – start small and move fast
- recognize that brands live in customs experiences
- comprehend that design brings value to business and society

Monday, 25th, 2017
Breakfast – Students and Sponsors:

During the breakfast offered to the students, the sponsor's representatives from 3M, Space150 and DMI board of directors shared their experiences, discussed varies topics and asked questions to the students. The meeting started with everyone at the table introducing themselves. After that, the conversation begun. Below are some topics of what was discussed:
- The importance of being a storyteller
- The shortage of human-center designer professional in the market
- How could design solutions solve problems?
- The importance of senior leaders to be more holistic
- Nowadays Design Thinking has turned to a brand, so let’s lavage this momentum
- Persistent overcomes resistance
- Spread your words and thoughts by writing more articles, submitting proposals, and publishing books

Keynote Speakers – Giulia Calabretta, Mauro Porcini, Ellen Walthour, and Roberto Verganti:
The first day included four Keynotes speaker’s sessions, one interactive breakout, and one executive roundtable activity. In the morning, Giulia, Mauro, and Ellen spoke about:
- Definition of Strategic Design: The use of design principles and practices to guide strategy development and implementation toward innovative outcomes which benefit people and organizations alike. (Giulia Calabretta - http://strategicdesignbook.com/ )
- People don’t purchase only products anymore. They search for holistic solutions, meaningful experiences, and authentic stories. (Mauro Porcini)
- The importance of developing a culture of progressive iteration.
- Design Thinkers’ behaviors:
o Be curious
o Love diversity
o Listen with humility
o Be confident, and make decisions
o Be resilient
o Be optimistic
o Be always in quest, always hungry
o Go the extra mile
o Be aware, self-conscious
o Smile and have fun
- Understand the consumer
- Always have an entrepreneurial spirit
- Designers are people who are in love with people. (Mauro Porcini)

The Breakout session – It’s a trap: 3 common UI traps - http://uitraps.com/ – Microsoft and Amazon Video speakers presented their UI Tenets & Traps methodology to build a better User Interface (UI) design. Below are their highlight points:
- Tenets – general attributes of good user interface design
- Traps – problems that degrade good user interface design
- Focus on eliminating traps and see the customer experience improving.
- Know that the human being attention is limited
- Engaged communities
- Pay attention to a number of options you offer to the client. If you have too many options, the consumer will take more time to make decisions.

The afternoon executive roundtable consisted of fifteen tables of different subjects with one moderator each. The audience had to choose one theme of the moment and discuss the topic of the table for 20 minutes after switching to the next table. The activity gave the attendees the opportunity to discuss three different subjects per session. The topics vary from “Work with Millennials”, “Do designers lead innovation?”, “Servant Leadership”, etc. In my opinion, the whole dynamic was very enjoyable and insightful. The participants did not only have the opportunity of sharing their experiences in small groups but also to explore topics of their own interest.

Roberto Verganti was the keynote speaker of this afternoon. He shared about his new book, “Overcrowded – Meaningful Design in a World Awash with Ideas.” He raised the question, “How to design something that people love?” Verganti methodology is based on People (Who?) => Meaning (Why?) => Solution (How?). He mentioned that there are two types of innovation: innovation of solutions and innovation of meaning. If you find what is meaningful to a person you will find the solution to their problems. In addition, Roberto suggested
- The importance of re-framing our minds
- to be open to criticism
- it is crucial to teach leadership skills at design schools
- we should refine the way we think
- to be authentic


Tuesday, 26th, 2017
Keynote Speakers – Fireside Chat with Verganti/Porcini/Wallace

During this open chat session, Porcini started bringing the topic from his executive roundtable – “Does designer lead innovation?” Below are my points from this conversation
- Verganti pointed out that business should drive innovation with designers as partners
- Wallace mentioned that Wall Street drives innovation. CEOs are tight close with Wall Street
- Innovation brings risks, so how to manage risk in a big corporation?
- Verganti - Wall street represents the shareholders where stocks are kept in average for 12 weeks. So, they can't lead innovation, but the people who work for the companies.
- Verganti- Do we need more innovation? We are able to create more innovation than what the company or people can absorb.
- Wallace - Sometimes creativity can overwhelm us with a lot of stuff. So minimalist maybe is the way. Should we design with more quality instead of quantity?
- Verganti – We should learn to separate pollution material and semi-optic pollution.

In sum, the discussion went well and the participants were very respectful of each other’s opinions as well.

Keynote Speakers – Steve Dietz, Marc Jensen and Jeanne Liedtka

The topics of the three keynote speakers from the morning session vary from art in the public sphere, Virtual Reality today and tomorrow and design thinking. Below are some of the highlights from the sessions:
- VR is a cutting-edge technology that is going to stay. So, we should learn how to deal with it.
- Art can transform culture and bring happiness to communities.
- The evidence of Design Thinking lives in the story.
- Important questions to ask when trying to find a solution to a problem:
o Does performance matter?
o Is it sustainable?
o Is it producing results?
- Exercise a dialogue-based conversation – question and answers.
- There is a lot of going on between adding more design processes than creating or innovating things.
- Design Thinking can reduce risk and cost of failure.

The afternoon keynote speakers Doug Beaudet and Jeff Sussna discussed how customer insights are the true enabler of connecting enterprises and what DevOps can offer DesignOps. Below are my notes from these sessions:
- Internet of Things is a tool that customers need and value
- The landscape of IT is changing from IT to ecosystems
- The objective of DevOps is
o to facilitate desirable outcome
o to help others leverage design capabilities
o to learn continuously
o to ever evolve and iterate things
- “Far too often security failure, we forgot that people were using it.” (Jeff Sussna)

The interactive breakout sessions topics were:
- Customer Experience Leadership
- Sustaining brand loyalty – Can Packaging be a Key?
- Designing for the greater good: Research on Outcomes of DT

In sum, it was a great honor of being one of the essay winners of the DMI: Design Leadership Conference. It has expanded my networking and my vision regarding design leadership. The information discussed during every session opened my mind to see a new realm of opportunities focused on human-center design from the upper leadership position that I didn’t know that it existed. It was definitely a great conference!!!

Diana Scates
Radford University 


 

 

Sponsors

 

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more Calendar

1/25/2018 » 1/26/2018
dmi:Workshop - Design Thinking

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