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Top tags: Design Education  innovation  Design Leadership  design thinking  futurED  creativity  design  design mba  design valuation  Design Value  Design Value Index  empathy  leadership  management  S&P 500  Tom Berno 

Design & Innovation Transformation at Newell Rubbermaid

Posted By DMI, Tuesday, August 26, 2014
By: Chuck Jones, Chief Design and Research & Development Officer, Newell Rubbermaid

Great design is a competitive advantage and it’s an exclusive tier of companies that recognize and endorse its impact. Throughout my career I’ve seen this model successfully applied across many diverse verticals. At Newell Rubbermaid, I’m bringing design to the forefront of the consumer durables space. We make products consumers use every day and our well-known brands like Rubbermaid, Sharpie, Graco, Irwin and Paper Mate lead their categories. These brands, some of which you might least expect, are extremely responsive to design and innovation. My team is applying the power of a $6 billion corporation’s design resources to redefine our categories’ future – from revolutionizing everyday writing to making the Brute trash can more simple to use.
This is unprecedented in our category, but it hasn’t happened overnight. We are becoming a brand and innovation led company that is famous for design and product performance. This mantra is internal inspiration and it’s my vision for our entire organization. It is a vision that is blessed by my peers on the Executive Leadership Team and a reality with every designer working on at our new state-of-the-art Design Center in Kalamazoo, Mich.
We are embedding design and innovative thinking into everything we do. The past 18 months have been a turning point, enabling us to transform our culture, truly deliver products that surprise, delight, and please our consumers and help strengthen our position as a leader in innovation – all from our new home in Southwest Michigan.

An Organization Built to Support Culture
We believe in the impact of design, and we endorse it with a structure that follows suit.  Newell Rubbermaid’s new Design Center epitomizes that commitment every hour of every working day.  We recently pulled all design and innovation talent, including Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Usability and Interaction Design, together in to one center of excellence. Now we can offer meaningful, rich experiences and professional development. A designer who is working in Writing can walk 50 steps and be immersed in Tools – this is an incredible sandbox for designers to play in.
For us, having these capabilities under one roof will foster creativity, maximize sharing of ideas and enhance our product innovation funnel. And we’ve added a new expertise, Usability, to ensure consumers are at the heart of every stage of the product development process from a physical and cognitive standpoint. We view design as a team sport, and that includes our colleagues in Consumer Insights and Marketing, Supply Chain and Customer Development. The approximately 115 designers living and working in Kalamazoo are evangelizing design and innovative thinking throughout the company.

Design: What’s Transforming Our Brands
Our products have conversations with consumers every day, and design is the language. We are leveraging the opportunity for more distinct design – in products, packaging, advertising and merchandising – to ensure our brands are instantly recognizable. For instance, the original Sharpie fine tip marker has an iconic design and the visual DNA speaks to consumers. If you look across the entire Sharpie portfolio, we have the opportunity to make that visual brand equity extend further. How can we challenge the brand to use design thinking even more strategically to create platforms, drive simplicity and reach consumers? These are the conversations that are being amplified even more at Newell Rubbermaid, led by our talent in Kalamazoo.

Attracting Diverse, Global Talent to Michigan
At the foundation of this culture and transformation, our people are the strongest advantage. We’ve drawn talent from near and far (for example, Germany, Belgium, China, and, of course, Kalamazoo), and our prolific designers bring with them a diversity of perspective and experience. We selected Southwest Michigan because of its strong presence of local, design-driven companies and talent and a growing educational community. As we grow we are simultaneously building Southwest Michigan as a hub for design and innovation.

Our end goal is to leverage design in a meaningful way, to make products that are demonstrably better, different and worth it for consumers worldwide. The Design Center makes this a reality by enabling collaboration to differentiate our products from the competitive set and deliver the promise of sustainably growing our people, our brands and Newell Rubbermaid.

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Q&A with A.G. Lafley, Don Norman, Tim Brown, and Roger Martin

Posted By DMI, Friday, May 23, 2014
This Q&A originally appeared in the dmi:Review vol 24:2 Summer 2013

A.G. Lafley Business and Innovation Strategist
“We are lucky to live in an era when design matters a great deal.”

A.G. Lafley is the former chairman of the board, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1969, joined the US Navy in 1970, earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1977, and then joined P&G.

Lafley has been honored with some of the highest recognitions in business, including Chief Executive magazine’s ‘CEO of the Year,’ the Peterson Award for Business Statesmanship, the Edison Achievement Award for Innovation, and the Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence. He has also been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame and IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame. He is the author of Playing to Win and The Game Changer, as well as several Harvard Business Review articles on strategy, innovation, and leadership. Lafley now consults on business and innovation strategy, advises on CEO succession and executive leadership development, and coaches experienced, new, and potential CEOs. He serves as senior advisor at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, a private equity partnership. He also serves as director at Legendary Pictures.

What does the term design thinking mean to you?

We have used design thinking to work on problems and opportunities that weren’t in the traditional realm of brand or product or package design. We have used design to take a different cut at strategy and organizational planning to do things differently and better. Design thinking is about using your whole brain. In business, we use deductive thinking—working first from principles. We use inductive thinking—working from tests and trials. With design thinking, we use abductive thinking—working from incomplete and varied observations. It’s about getting the right mix of people around the table to solve problems or identify opportunities by drawing on our“whole brains.”In layman’s terms,it’s open-minded connections and collaboration. At P&G, we used design thinking to create new product categories. We brought together diverse teams that worked together to innovate in ways we couldn’t imagine before.

In addition to subject matter experts (for instance, biologists, chemists, marketers), we brought together outsiders such as anthropologists and behavioral psychologists to give ourselves a better chance of understanding consumers and creating new products and new and better product experiences. This mix of diverse talent is more likely to make the kinds of unexpected connections that deliver real innovation.
Consumers usually cannot tell us what they want, but they can respond to stimuli. Through an iterative process that involved consumers with early-stage concepts and product prototypes, we got to be really good at designing better consumer experiences and commercializing new products quicker and more successfully.

What’s the difference between design and design thinking, in your mind?
As described earlier, design thinking is a way of thinking that fosters creativity and innovation in products and services, as well as new approaches to business and organization. Design is about improving the real and perceived function and the experience customers have with a product or service, including the package, the product, and every touchpoint of the consumer experience. Done well, design makes products more desirable, ensures they function better, and can even make them more valuable.

How and when did you first discover that design could make a more strategic contribution to your business?
Early in my career, I spent eight years in Asia, starting in Japan where millions of people are living close together in smaller spaces. The Japanese do many things to design everyday life so it’s a better experience. Every detail of daily life is taken into consideration. Japanese product and package design is both beautiful and highly functional. From the beautifully designed cities of Kyoto and Nara to public gardens and parks, to everyday retail and service experiences… careful attention is paid to every detail of design.

What role did design play in driving the cultural changes you made at P&G?
We used design as a catalyst across the organization. We worked hard to grow and develop the design team— gave them time to grow capabilities, gain experience, and prove their value to the product and brand teams. Historically, P&G was brand-and product-centric. We realized we needed to be more customer-centric. Culturally, that meant we needed to be closer to consumers… and more open, curious, collaborative, and courageous if we wanted to become more innovative with our brands and products. With design, we were going to have to venture outside our comfort zone. Claudia Kotchka brought in many designers from the best design shops in the world and built our design capability over several years. Today, Phil Duncan, formerly of Landor, leads the design function at P&G.

Don Norman Author, Teacher, Executive
“Whatever it is, it has been practiced for millennia by great thinkers in every discipline from literature to engineering, art to physics.”

Don Norman is both a businessperson (vice president at Apple, executive at Hewlett-Packard and at a startup) and an academic (Harvard, UC San Diego, Northwestern, KAIST). As co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, he serves on company boards and helps companies make products more enjoyable, understandable, and profitable. He is an IDEO Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He gives frequent keynotes and is known for his many books, including The Design of Everyday Things, Emotional Design, and Living with Complexity (which argues against simplicity). A completely revised, updated edition of Design of Everyday Things will be published in October 2013.

How does an organization create a great experience when it doesn’t control the customer encounter?

Obviously, it’s harder to control the experience in someone else’s channel. However, that’s the reality for most consumer product manufacturers.
In this case, the package really matters. Communicating the brand promise and the product’s performance is critical for P&G’s household and personal care packages. A well-designed package makes a big difference on the store shelf when the consumer makes his or her purchase decision.

Which experiences or designs delight you these days?
I had a Vespa when I was 16, and I now have two. It remains a fabulous design experience.I love my Vespas’simple function and iconic design. I paid $400 for my first one and now happily pay a lot more than that as a loyal customer.

The car business is full of well-designed experiences. We just bought our second Mini Cooper and an Audi S7. We bought them for performance reasons… but also for design. We love their design. Let’s face it; car performance and technology differences keep getting smaller. In this situation, design often makes the difference.

Produce sections in many stores— Wegmans, Whole Foods, and others—have become a lot more like farmer’s markets and make shopping more enjoyable. We are lucky to live in an era when design matters a great deal. The consumer-expectations bar has been raised, and the demand for great experiences is higher than ever.

What does the term design thinking mean to you today?
Design thinking is actually a misnomer. First of all, only a small percentage of designers do it. Second, there is no agreement about what it might be. And third, whatever it is, it has been practiced for millennia by great thinkers in every discipline from literature to engineering, art to physics.
See my piece“Design Thinking: A Useful Myth”on the Core77 website. Then again, there is something unique that great designers do, different from what other disciplines do. I explore this in my piece“Rethinking Design Thinking”(also on Core77). Design thinking is a process of determining the correct problem (as opposed to jumping toward a solution). After the correct problem has been determined, then it is a process of working toward an acceptable solution. Does everyone follow it? No.

Do you believe this is best done by people who have a degree in a design discipline, or can anyone learn to do it?
Anyone can do it, with training and practice.

Do you believe that business needs more chief design officers?
Much more important is that designers should understand business. It is amazing how naive many designers are about business—especially those who teach design in universities. But you know what? I find the same naiveté among all professors, whether it is in engineering or science or the social and behavioral sciences. A complete lack of understanding coupled with a number of false beliefs. Hell, even business school professors often do not understand business. Most have never had a job in a company—they have spent their entire lives in academia.

What are the most important things that need to be done to create more design leaders in business?
Understand how design and business fit together. In my book, just after I describe the essence of design methods and design thinking, I have a section entitled “You know what I just told you? It doesn’t work that way.”Here I provide Norman’s Law: The day the project is announced, it is behind schedule and over its budget. Designers need to work in this environment. Usually they do the fun and easy part—inventing, creating, and so forth. Then they turn it over to the company. Later, they complain that the company ruined their ideas. Nonsense, It means their ideas were wrong for the company.

Tim Brown IDEO CEO and President
“As designers and leaders in increasingly complex systems, we need to be inspired to cut across boundaries to make new connections and insights.”

Tim Brown is CEO and president of IDEO. He frequently speaks about the value of design thinking and innovation to businesspeople and designers around the world. He participates in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and his talks “Serious Play”and “Change by Design” appear on An industrial designer by training, Brown has earned numerous design awards and has exhibited work at the Axis Gallery in Tokyo, the Design Museum in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He advises senior executives and boards of Fortune 100 companies and has led strategic client relationships with such organizations as the Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble,and Steelcase. He is a board member of the Mayo Innovation Advisory Council and the Advisory Council of Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund focused on improving the lives of the poor. He writes for the Harvard Business Review, The Economist, and other publications,and his book Change by Design was published in 2009.He maintains a blog on design thinking at

IDEO has done a lot to promote the term design thinking. What is its true origin, and how has it driven your business?
Design thinking is part of a larger tradition of integrated, human-centered, creative problem-solving. It was widely spread long before design was seen as a profession and long before we started to write about it. The difference was that it was intuitive and its practitioners were often seen as slightly odd. They were not typical inventors, engineers, artists, or businesspeople. They integrated aspects of all these to create solutions that addressed unmet needs. Some of the great mavericks of the past were probably design thinkers—for example, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Thomas Edison, Charles and Ray Eames, Akio Morita, Steve Jobs (of course), and Ferdinand Porsche. In business, design thinking can be described as an approach that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and with what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.

What’s the difference between design and design thinking, in your mind?

Design is about being intentional in creating a desired outcome. It’s about working within constraints to meet the needs of the community for which you’re designing. Design thinking means bringing this same creative problem-solving mindset to everything you do. Great designers don’t just do design, they live design. Like them, we can learn how to practice design thinking principles both at work and at home.

What do you see as the core principles and practices behind it?
Design thinkers are optimistic, collaborative, and generative. They get out in the world to be inspired by people. They deeply observe ordinary situations that most people would normally look at only once (or not at all). They look for opportunities to take action and improve everyday situations, small and large. They know that any process can be re-examined and tweaked. They don’t settle for the first good idea that comes to mind or seize on the first promising solution presented. They iterate, test, and iterate again.

Do you believe this is best done by people who have a degree in a design discipline, or can anyone learn to do it?
Throughout Change by Design, I tried to show that design thinking can be applied to a wide range of problems—and also that these skills are accessible to a far greater range of people than may be commonly supposed. Like any good design team, we can have a sense of purpose without deluding ourselves into believing that we can predict every outcome in advance, for this is the space of creativity. We can blur the distinction between the final product and the creative process that got us there. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create. We can work within the constraints of our own natures—and still be agile, build capabilities, iterate. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, change our perspectives.

Do you believe that business needs more chief design officers?
Whether or not the solution is more chief design officers, history tends to show that unless people have a design responsibility as part of their role, it gets
overlooked. We need senior leaders who see it as part of their roles to represent and promote design thinking. We’ve noticed that many of the best CEOs are also natural design thinkers. So training people in design thinking may also prepare them for business leadership. Businesses spend billions every year designing, developing, and marketing new things. One question that chief design officers can ask is: Are we directing those efforts appropriately? Most of the greatest challenges facing our species today are not ones that reside at the peak of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy. Instead, they concern life’s most basic needs: be safe, productive, and sustainable places for us to inhabit and give shelter to the more than 3 billion people who live on less than $2.50 a day? balance between the needs of 9 billion people and the productive capacity of the planet? The list goes on, and yet we are dedicating a tiny proportion of our creative efforts to these challenges. What is especially confounding is that locked up in every one of these challenges is the potential for vast amounts of economic wealth. Never has“doing well by doing good” shown such promise as it does now.

If so, what are the most important things that need to be done to create more design leaders in business?
Great corporate leaders know the importance of finding the smartest young people in the room and giving them a chance to work on the hardest problems. They match great design thinkers with important work, regardless of traditional hierarchy or rank, and they don’t leave it to chance. This is one way to create more design leaders in business. Another is by re-energizing apprenticeships, which have largely faded away over the last few decades in American life. I question why there are not more apprenticeships available in software development or design or even entrepreneurship. These disciplines, among many others, are ones that benefit from hands-on learning rather than conventional teaching.
As designers and leaders in increasingly complex systems, we need to be inspired to cut across boundaries to make new connections and insights. We need more than a few intuitive mavericks to tackle the challenges in front of us.

Roger Martin, Author, and Innovation Strategist

Roger Martin has served as Dean of the Rotman School of Management since September 1, 1998. He is an advisor on strategy to the CEO’s of several major global corporations. He writes extensively on design and is a regular contributor to Washington Post’s On Leadership blog and to Financial Times’s Judgment Call column. He has published numerous books, including: PlayingToWin,The Design of Business, The Opposable Mind.

What does the term design thinking mean to you? Is there a difference between design and design thinking?
Design refers to a particular way of engaging in the making of something, whether it’s a product, a logo, or a graphical user interface. That particular way is accomplished with a set of tools and practices taught in a design program. Design thinking refers to the thinking processes used to inform the task of creating something new. So for me, design thinking exists at a higher level of abstraction than design. One can engage in design by way of long experience and not actually engage in design thinking. Someone engaging in design thinking is consciously balancing analytical thinking and intuitive thinking to produce an outcome that exhibits a requisite level of both reliability and validity.

What do you see as the core principles and practices behind design thinking?
The fundamental principle is balance of opposing forces. Design thinking balances exploitation and exploration, reliability and validity, analysis and intuition, and declarative logic and modal logic. The practices include qualitative approaches to deeply understand users (in addition to traditional quantitative measures), application of abductive logic to imagine what might be (rather than just what is), and iterative crafting of strategy (rather than linear planning).

Do you believe this is best done by people who have a degree in a design discipline, or can anyone learn to do it?
A degree in a design discipline is a mixed blessing. On the plus side, a proper design degree will teach abductive logic (often not implicitly as such) and provide practice in seeking new solutions to problems. On the minus side, design degrees typically teach nothing about the crafting of strategy—and without that final element, the impact of design on performance is limited. One can engage in design by way of long experience and not actually engage in design thinking.

Given your success at Rotman, what is important about teaching design at a school of business?
Teaching design thinking at Rotman has helped our students understand the need to go beyond purely reliability-focused analytical thinking in making business decisions. As a result, our graduates are, I believe, less prone to believe that if you just crunch the numbers, you will make brilliant business decisions. At the graduate level, how do you approach design education for business students versus design students?
We actually teach both kinds of students—Rotman MBAs and Ontario College of Art & Design students—and we teach them together. Each has things that are harder and easier for them. But we think it is productive to have them together.

Do you believe that business needs more chief design officers?
Yes, but only if CEOs support them. While it may seem to be an unalloyed good to have a Jonathan Ives or a Claudia Kotchka heading up a design function in your corporation, it only has a meaningful positive impact if you have a Steve Jobs or an A.G. Lafley supporting their work with resources and design-influenced decision-making. Fortunately, I think there are more design-friendly CEOs out there these days, so I think there is more capacity for effective chief design officers.

If so, what are the most important things that need to be done to create more design leaders in business?
One is to have more business schools do what the Rotman School is doing— that is, aim to have students graduate understanding the centrality of design thinking to successful business leadership. This means not just doing exchanges with design schools or teaching MBAs“design management.” It means committing to integrating design thinking into the models of business that are taught.

This Q&A originally appeared in the Summer 2013 edition of the dmi:Review vol 24:2

Tags:  Design Education  Design Leadership  Design Thinking  Design Value 

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Design-Driven Companies Outperform S&P by 228% Over Ten Years - The ‘DMI Design Value Index'

Posted By Michael Westcott, Monday, March 10, 2014
Updated: Monday, March 10, 2014

The most innovative companies in the world* share one thing in common. They use design as an integrative resource to innovate more efficiently and successfully.  Yet many businesses don’t make it a priority to invest in design - often because the value of design is hard to measure and define as a business strategy. The DMI Design Value Index has taken the mystery out of measurement, demonstrating that an unequivocal financial advantage is attributable to those that do dare to make design a priority.

A stock market index is used to measure the performance of one segment of the market against the larger stock market. It consists of companies that share a predefined set of characteristics or industries. The index is computed from the weighted average of the market capitalization from the chosen set of stocks.

The DMI Design Value Index, built by Motiv, includes a rigorously selected list of design-led, publicly traded US companies that must meet a set of six DMI design management criteria. Out of a pool of 75 publicly traded U.S. companies, just 15 meet the criteria.  These companies include Apple, Coca Cola, Ford, Herman-Miller, IBM, Intuit, Newell-Rubbermaid, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Starwood, Steelcase, Target, Walt Disney and Whirlpool.

Results show that over the last 10 years design-led companies have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 228%.

Based on this analysis Motiv and DMI worked to develop a list of 8 prominent ways companies are winning in the marketplace through design. The basic premise is that using design methods to understand customer needs better as well as to reframe complex problems is leading to insights that constitute strategic competitive advantages. Further, utilizing top design talent to translate insights and new strategies into tangible solutions in hardware, software and service interactions helps companies grow faster through differentiation and better customer experiences. Margins can also be driven higher through generating an “I gotta have it” [at any cost] mentality on the part of customers.

This phenomena is what compels us to pay $4 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, spend hundreds more on an Apple versus Dell laptop, or travel further to stay at a Starwood property. Having many designers on staff doesn’t necessarily lead to great design as designers need to be managed effectively, which is rare in publicly-traded companies as the left-brained analytical types often dominate the organization, making it difficult for the right-brained creative types’ voices to be heard and respected. That’s why DMI is working to help make organizations more creative worldwide.

Michael Westcott, President of DMI
Everything ever made by human beings first requires Design, and in the world of business and commerce, design naturally requires expert Management. Discovering, defining, measuring, and communicating the value of design is precisely the mission of the Design Management Institute. 

Jeneanne Rae, CEO of Motiv, 
She founded Motiv in 2011 and has worked with dozens of large corporations as consultant to senior leaders over the course of her career.   A few years after graduating from Harvard Business School, she was the first woman to join the executive management team at IDEO where she worked for 7 years.  She has written numerous articles for Business Week, Fast Company, DMI:Review and served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business as well as taught executive education at Columbia University, Penn State, Duke University.  On the topic of design capability building, Jeneanne is considered an expert and has worked with Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Kraft Foods and Hewlett Packard.

Tags:  design valuation  Design Value Index  S&P 500 

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Managing Innovation in Sports

Posted By Craig Vogel, Monday, March 10, 2014
by Craig Vogel
Director of the Center of Design, Research and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati 

I have always been interested in successful managers/leaders and have extended my interest in general to design and business.  I am always looking for new ways to inspire, integrate and support interdisciplinary/cross functional innovation.

After the kick off return at the start of the second half it became clear that Pete Carroll would be declared the winner and Peyton Manning the loser of this year’s Super Bowl.  Everything went right for Seattle and the opposite was true for Denver.  Carroll is not an overnight success, but he did achieve a rare moment in management–the perfect game.  Pete Carroll, Phil Jackson, Bill Walsh are examples of sports coaches who have brought a multi-faceted approach to managing a diverse group of people with varying talents, personalities and functional capability.

Pete Carroll started with a philosophy that connected to an approach to picking players, then integrating the players into a system that balanced team goals and individual personality attributes that worked to play opponents both at home and on the road. The bonus for the Seahawks is their stadium design and the fan noise referred to as the “12 man”, it does not hurt to have intangibles compliment good planning.
Pete Carroll did not beat Peyton Manning.  The Carroll management system beat the John Fox system.  It has taken Carroll several decades to perfect a way to organize and inspire a group of professionals to play together at a very high level.  The game was a perfect example of Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s theory of Flow where ability met challenge at just the right balance.

Here is what he did:
  • Communicate a clear down-on-the deck philosophy about winning.
  • Coach with a positive pro-active style that brings joy to practice and playing.
  • Balance overall team integration with the unique capabilities of each player.
  • Find the right blend of players and staff.
  • Make the game more than salary and stats.
  • Create clear, simple game plans trusting reaction over complex formations.
  • Combine the idea of professionalism with childlike enthusiasm.

Leading by example, Carroll has one of the youngest minds, developed at USC, while he is also one of the oldest coaches in pro-football. This approach is very similar to the approach used by Phil Jackson when he coached the Lakers and the Bulls to 11 championships and won 2 as a player with the Knicks.
Bill Walsh had a similar approach.  The Duke coach Mike Krzysewski, John Wooden and others inspire my thinking about coaching /managing teams.  I have respect for people in roles of responsibility who can inspire people to do things as individuals or in teams that transcend their own expectations.   Pete Carroll is one of those leaders who can manage with a positive, intelligent approach that is uplifting and not punitive.  If he can keep his approach working for 3-5 more years he will be one of the few leaders able to sustain successful management approaches over time.

I have had the opportunity to manage and observe over 100 teams and I know how hard it is to have highly functional diverse teams perform at a high level.  I have learned how to manage successful teams and I have been fortunate to been able to manage/coach a few teams that have reached that perfect Flow state.  Managing designers is comparable to sports teams.  It requires finding the right mix of team and individual support with a clear goal and method to teamwork. The best teams and managers use humor, are not defensive and look for feedback.  The result is an atmosphere inspiring individuals to share their ability with others in a non-competitive environment and push themselves to respond to consumer opportunity and stakeholder demands.

Tags:  innovation  leadership  management 

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Making Design Part of the C-suite at Newell Rubbermaid

Posted By Michael Westcott, Monday, March 10, 2014
One of the most diverse consumer product organizations has determined that design needs to be a core component of its brands in the future and has committed to building a new state-of-the-art design center to prove it. Newell Rubbermaid has elevated Chuck Jones, DMI to the role of Chief Design and Technology officer to underscore the need to integrate design and technology in the future.

Chuck Jones is a proven leader in the design management community who has helped organizations such as Whirlpool, Masco and Xerox raise the level and outcome of their design teams. The breadth of the Newell global portfolio is impressive and includes such notable brands as ViceGrips, Irwin, Parker and Rubbermaid. According to Chuck, “Newell has done well with its tactical use of design, and is now making an organization-wide commitment to innovation by making design a strategic global resource.”

Specifically he and his team are charged with increasing revenue by growing the innovation pipeline at Newell, and have identified three key themes to focus their efforts:

  1. Innovation to increase the quantity of ideas and value of the Innovation Pipeline
  2. Design leadership by focusing on craftsmanship and brand differentiation
  3. Project leadership and productivity, including effective use of technology to manage time, budgets and quality execution. 

They will be creating a usability lab and human-factors research center and consolidating many of their designers and resources in the new Kalamzoo, MI design center pictured below.

Tags:  design  design leadership  innovation 

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5 Dangerous Ideas for the Future of Design Education

Posted By Tom Berno, Monday, March 10, 2014
By Tom Berno—Professor of Communication Design, Texas State University and Founder of idea21
(Acknowledgement: The article title directly references noted author Scott Berkun’s presentation at the 2011 DMI Seattle conference Make it Happen.)

On August 20, 2013, DMI convened a workshop in Chicago to crystallize a future vision of design education. Conceived as a wide-ranging research initiative, DMI:futurED combined both quantitative and qualitative approaches to assess both the current state of design education in contexts relating to MBA, MFA and BFA programs and in professional environments.

This meeting of 50 dynamic figures included design and business program educators, prominent design leaders from firms such as frog and IDEO, design and business consultants and students. DMI President Michael Westcott addressed the gathering as “thought leaders” as he mapped out the goals and challenges for DMI:futurED.

FuturED promised to be an ongoing effort, and the discussions and debates from the workshop well represented the iterative aspect of design thinking. What emerged was not only the initial effort at building a roadmap to address many new realities, but also a number of ideas that each represented new challenges to the established order.  Here is an unordered list of 5 dangerous ideas discussed in depth at DMI:futurED:

The University is being disrupted— Sarah Stein Greenberg of the Stanford d School stated that the University is on the verge of being disrupted, and there is ample support for this notion in the broader press. The d School’s model of a non-degree granting program is disruptive in and of itself. Heather Fraser of the Rotman School of Business described the grass roots efforts of students in amplifying the focus on design and innovation at business schools (a trend seen in a number of prominent MBA programs). Craig Vogel of the University of Cincinnati focused on a lack of systems thinking within the University.

While online education receives much attention in this disruptive environment, Stein Greenberg stated that Stanford saw the opportunity to innovate around the on-campus experience. Other business leaders at futurED identified the opportunity to redefine universities as experiential design centers. Both approaches require university educators and administrators to pivot from a reactive posture to current challengers like the University of Phoenix or struggle to implement online learning strategies. Roger Martin echoed this sentiment in a recent article: “We need class experiences which are very interactive, that create something generative out of the minds of the class (Hurst, 2013).”

The University may be too late— Educators and professionals alike expressed concerns within the working groups that the current reality of university education limits opportunities to historically disadvantaged minority groups and immigrants. This is at a time when the need for more diverse experiences and perspectives has never been greater in the context of the global economy. 
Surya Vanka, a leader of Microsoft’s UX practice, focused on the need to connect students at the K–12 level to design and design thinking. He emphasized the need to illuminate alternate educational paths to the medical and legal fields that dominate consideration among high-achieving students in minority groups—an interest often reinforced by parents in those groups. 

Elevating design and innovation into competition with these traditionally high value fields is the best opportunity to grow a diverse community of design leaders, Vankya expressed. Gallup recently found that the current generation feels that “success…is less about getting the highest paying job and more about what (the individual) likes to do and does best (Busteed, 2013).” Connecting design with students ahead of the university experience is also a potentially disruptive challenge to the university system.

The new ideal hire is a team— Professionals such as Tonya Peck and Jason Severs from frog and Annette Diefenthaler from IDEO focused discussion within one group on a whole range of qualifications well beyond the traditional portfolio-centric view of talent evaluation. This increasing emphasis on intellectual and emotional intelligences identified by the working group led to a conclusion that few entry-level designers would possess such a broad set of capabilities. At the same time, the imperative for collaboration is advancing across the practice of design. 

Elite design programs produce organic teams of friends and collaborators, many of whom enter the profession as established partnerships as opposed to seeking entry-level employment. Innovative design organizations—particularly in the Bay Area—may find that group hires, or acquisitions of young design startups, provide a competitive advantage in the battle for talent along with improved performance benefits internally. Corporate concerns seem to be adopting a similar strategy; acquisition of creative design studios by non design-focused companies from Google to Accenture confirms that integrating established and effective teams offers compelling performance advantages.

Desirable skills are survival skills— There is a need to emphasize parallel tracks in educating designers. Current needs, including technical skills, must remain a focus of design education. But skills and capabilities that will address future needs are also an urgent need. Increasingly, skills and capabilities that support personal growth are the point of emphasis here. Gravity Tank’s Elizabeth Glenewinkel emphasized this point in discussion.

The traditional emphasis of design programs on portfolio development seems to fall well short of imparting a whole range of abilities geared towards expanding mental processes most desired by design organizations. Among those capabilities identified by a group that included leaders from frog and IDEO among others are curiosity, boldness, collaboration, defining problems, storytelling, improvisation, and agility. 

From the outset of the meeting, participants identified empathy as a prerequisite for designers to engage audiences and communities. Richard Buchanan of the Weatherford School of Management at Case Western Reserve emphatically stated that empathy was beyond a mere “skill” and initiated a lively debate concerning both the methods and the potential for instilling empathy via design education, and beyond. 

Design students lack cultural depth and awareness— Several representatives from leading design agencies expressed variations on this theme. Lack of curiosity and personal development were described as particular concerns. Jason Severs expressed a desire to see self-initiated projects in portfolios, while Adam Connor of Boston-based Mad*Pow emphasized that interpersonal skills and not canned answers made the biggest impression in interviews. 

In the broader context, participants encouraged the broadening of networks beyond design students’ own peers, and encouraged engagement with larger issues relating to government policy, social needs, and non-profit causes. Even noted designer and Pentagram partner Michael Beirut recently stated that “I would take someone who is able to read over someone who is able to draw any day” when asked about student qualifications (Butler, 2013). Design programs need to embrace a broader approach to address these new realities. 

FuturED illuminated a wealth of both challenges and opportunities. Design achieved an entirely new and elevated relevance as a means for competitive advantage and as driver of social change in the early 21st century. To truly realize the new potential of design to be “the liberal art of the 21st century” as described by Philadelphia University Provost Randy Swearer (2010), these 5 dangerous ideas must be addressed. DMI’s community has hopefully initiated not just a conversation, but also practical approaches for design education to address these, and other, emerging challenges.

Busteed, B. (2013) Is college worth it? Gallup Business Journal. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from [LINK]
Butler, A. (2013). Michael Beirut interview. DesignBoom. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from [LINK]
Hurst, N. (2013) Big corporations are buying design firms in droves. Wired. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from [LINK]
Liedtka, J., Podolny, J., & Swearer, R. (2010 June). Changes—in business and design education. In Re-thinking... the future of design. Symposium conducted at DMI Design/Management Thinking 22 2010 conference meeting, San Francisco, CA.
Ridgers, B. (2013). Disruption on the line. The Economist. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from [LINK]
Westcott, M., et. al. (2013 August). futurED. Symposium conducted at DMI futurED workshop, Chicago, IL. 

Tom Berno is founder of idea21, a design thinking and brand development practice based in Austin, Texas focused on integrating design-based strategies for competitive advantage. He is also a Professor of Communication Design at Texas State University. Throughout his career, Mr. Berno has enjoyed extensive recognition for excellence in design in trade publications, periodicals and exhibitions. Tom posts his thoughts on #designthinking and other topics on Twitter @tberno.

Tags:  design education  futurED  Tom Berno 

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Design Thinking and Doing: Time to Move Past Semantic Arguments & Into the Future?

Posted By Michael Westcott, Monday, March 10, 2014
The ongoing debate about the phrase design thinking has been a source of amusement: Designers seem to get tired of their own vocabulary well before the rest of the world even knows what they are talking about. There are many who dismiss design thinking as an inaccurate description of a more strategic use of design. Others will say, like Donald Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, that “what is being labeled as ‘design thinking’ is what creative people in all disciplines have always done.” This may be true, but the growth and influence of design thinking and its application to larger strategic problems continues to achieve a few important things in organizations:

  • Changing perspectives: For many, design is no longer a department to help “make pretty,” but rather a resource that can serve as a powerful component of the strategic toolbox for uncovering needs, reframing market opportunities, designing new business models, visualizing strategy, reducing risk, and making a major contribution to the top and bottom lines. 
  • Integrating organizations: Design thinking has helped many organizations see designers and design methods as an integrating force to break down traditional boundaries and silos in ways that release creativity and enable organizations to better adapt to the necessity of change.
  • Expanding disciplined creativity: By shifting the conversation and context of design from products and communication to systems, services, and strategic solutions, designers are making their presence felt far beyond the borders of corporate design departments by tackling “wicked problems” that governments and traditional bureaucracies have been unable to resolve.

At a time when the pace of change and market disruption is increasing, the ability to reframe problems, uncover new opportunities, and deliver creative solutions is a business imperative, not just a market differentiator (just ask AG Lafley, who is featured in the most recent DMI Review publication, and has recently returned as CEO of P&G).  There is a reason that design and innovation clubs are thriving at all the major business schools. Students are demanding to be taught more about creativity and design in order to become better entrepreneurs and business leaders.

This desire for creativity to uncover opportunities and innovate effectively also points at an interesting parallel between entrepreneurial thinking and design thinking.  Although many discount the concept of design thinking as ill defined or “designer mumbo-jumbo,” there are four important aspects of design thinking that are very attractive to business and consistent with successful entrepreneurship:
  • Empathy. Developing a 360-degree understanding of the challenges for all stakeholders, including those who produce and deliver the product or service, in order to creatively question the status quo and reframe the problem.
  • Creativity. Taking a diverse and divergent approach to generating ideas, synthesizing complex issues, and visualizing solutions in order to support better decision-making.
  • Efficiency. By providing a more disciplined approach with proven processes, tools, and exercises, design thinking is making organizations more efficient and consistent innovators. Just look at the top 10 innovators in Booz & Company’s annual innovation study. They are all design-driven companies.
  • Efficacy. A thoughtful approach to design thinking (and doing) that includes rapid prototyping, testing, and shorter time to market also makes organizations more effective competitors and reduces risk of failure.
Whatever you choose to call it—innovation, design, creativity, design thinking, design intelligence—let’s agree that what the world needs is more Chief Design Officers. CDOs place the integrative power of design alongside the CFO, COO, CIO, and CMO functions to help CEOs make organizations more united, more responsive, more creative, more adaptable to change, and more purposeful in their business pursuits.

Tags:  creativity  design thinking  empathy  innovation 

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The Business of Design: Designing Education

Posted By Michael Westcott, Monday, March 10, 2014
A 19th Century Institution
The silos and conventions of college, secondary and primary education have not evolved fundamentally in hundreds of years. It is no secret that the education system is under great pressure to change. A recent McKinsey paper points out that “only six in ten students at four-year institutions are graduating within six years today. Most employers say graduates lack the skills they need and tuition has risen far faster than inflation or household earnings for two decades…” (A painful truth I am experiencing firsthand.) This is leaving many with tremendous debt and even more questions about the value of a college education in the 21st century.

It’s time for a redesign.

MOOCS & The Design Challenge: New Business Models
The recent excitement around Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has yielded little beyond hype presently, with a few notable exceptions like Salman Khan’s Kahn Academy that has turned classroom learning upside down by delivering video lectures at home and using the classroom for interactive coaching and workshop-style applied learning that makes teachers more valuable and the peer-to-peer learning connection more personal. (That sounds a lot like a recipe for design education as well.) Underneath his thousands of online lectures is a beautiful software platform that school systems are now using to track progress and improve learning performance. A perfect combination of the promise of high-tech, high-touch experiences we have always heard about.

The opportunity for design and design thinkers is to help create and facilitate new business and delivery models for education. There are interesting experiments going on globally in graduate design education. I had the enjoyable opportunity to share some thoughts and facilitate a workshop at a recent Harvard Business School (HBS) conference on design. Yes, you heard right, HBS just hosted its first design thinking conference called Harvard By Design. 

Students Driving Change: Redesigning the MBA
This conference and another in NYC, the MBA Innovation Summit, was designed and hosted by the design clubs from Yale, Columbia and Wharton, which brought together business leaders, students and faculty from across the country.

There are many progressive academics all around the world who have been studying and prototyping next generation MBA curriculum. From Cambridge to Copenhagen to Cincinnati to China, design thinking is rapidly becoming a part of MBA education to help generate more creative leaders who are comfortable using both sides of their brain to drive business. And in this time of disruption and rapid change, what the world needs is more creative leadership across the board, especially in Washington, DC.

“Let the future happen to you or take the opportunity to create it.”

The role of employers in redesigning professional education is already attracting huge investments by global corporations and the need for schools to rethink their business models has become urgent. To quote André Dua from McKinsey & Company, “the cost–value equation will shift so rapidly in the years ahead, and employers will develop so great a stake in the new system they help design, that millions of students will probably flourish without ever setting foot on traditional campuses.”

Educating Design Thinkers for the Next Economy

It is this very challenge that has driven DMI to embark upon a research program to map the needs of design management and design thinking and graduate design education in the future through a series of conversations with students and thought leaders from business and education. These conversations have started this month, and we invite you to join or host a conversation. I will share a discussion guide and an overview of the program to date.

DMI will also hold our first DMI:FutureED Summit in conjunction with the IDSA’s International Conference in Chicago on Aug. 20, 2013.  There, we will paint the landscape of graduate design education and document the hiring needs that businesses have for more creative leaders in the future.

Tags:  design education  design mba  futurED 

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