Doblin’s Matt Locsin spoke at a recent event organized by IDSA/NYC. Sharing the stage with Allan Chochinov, editor-in-chief of Core77 and founding chair of the new MFA in Products of Design at SVA, Matt chose to follow Allan’s presentation with his own description of how design can be used to develop big, platform level solutions. “By design, innovation in areas other than just products can have dramatic effect,” he said, echoing a key theme of Doblin’s practice.
Doblin’s own Melissa Quinn will be taking part in a session at the IDSA’s international conference, taking place in Boston on August 15th. Here’s the blurb for the session, which takes place in the “Business of Design” track and which promises to be lively and thought-provoking. If you’re there, be sure to say hello!
The definition and practice of design has never been more dynamic. Now wholeheartedly embraced by the business, nonprofit and government communities as a critical success factor, more scope and integration is being demanded of design and its managers than ever before. How is this trend playing out in the far corners of the profession? A set of panelists who sit at some of the furthest edges of where design is being applied will discuss the important trends they are seeing as well as the biggest challenges they face in moving forward in the environments they serve. Melissa Quinn will talk about Doblin/Monitor’s unique approach to design/business integration; Steve Kaneko will talk about the broad range of talent and skills that are required to produce compelling hardware and software products; Jeneanne Rae will talk about what is uniquely required in service design; and Heather Boesch will talk about using design thinking in NGO and government settings.
by Larry Keeley
published as the foreword in The Mobile Frontier by Rachel Hinman
So here’s a little fact that feels surprising: Today on our small blue planet, more people have access to cell phones than to working plumbing. Think about that. Primitive plumbing has been around for over a thousand years. Modern working plumbing has been around for at least 200 years longer than the fleeting few years since 1984 when Motorola first ripped the phone off the wall and allowed us to carry it around. Most people find plumbing useful. Apparently, many millions more find cellular phones indispensible. Whenever big parts of modern life—the Internet, video games, search engines, smartphones, iPads, social networking systems, digital wallet payment systems—are so useful that we can no longer imagine life without them, we act as if they will forever be the way they are now. This childlike instinct has its charms, but it is always wrong and particularly dangerous for designers. People who think deeply about the built world necessarily must view it as fungible, not fixed. It is the job of thoughtful designers to notice the petty annoyances that accumulate when we use even devices we love—to stand in the future and think of ways to make it more elegantly functional, less intrusive, more natural, far more compelling. In the best such cases, designers need to surprise us—by radically altering what we think is possible. To create the futures we cannot even yet imagine.
by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon
published in Design Management Review
The chief marketing officer (CMO) of a large, diversified consumer electronics company knew that he had to change the process for allocating marketing spend across four different product divisions, but wasn’t sure how.
The market landscape was shifting dramatically, along several dimensions. People were moving their online and media lives to tablets and mobile phones much faster than expected. Meanwhile, social networking campaigns—after being hyped for years—were now seriously competing with traditional advertising channels for resources. The CMO needed to make some big decisions at a time of budget constraints and moving targets.
In prior years, the CMO had collected individual budgets from each division—which were inevitably too high—and then tried to strike a compromise. This process “worked”, in a way, but allowed little space for the big strategic issues, resulted in incremental changes, and left everyone dissatisfied.
In this situation, the CMO faced several challenges at once: a competitive challenge, an analytic challenge, a foresight challenge, a political challenge, a leadership challenge, a learning challenge—and more—all rolled into one.
But is it a design challenge?
by Larry Keeley
published in Step Inside Design
Two summers ago I was biking in the Alps and got a call from a client CEO who expected me to drop everything and meet him in New York City the very next day. I said it was impossible, that it would take me two days to get there. He said he would wait, though in a tone of voice that clearly suggested he shouldn’t have to. Thinking it unwise to appear in biking duds, I bought some business-meeting clothes and flew to New York, got to his conference room, and he promptly walked in to tell me a tale.
Three days earlier this CEO, head of a $70 billion financial services firm with offices in 40 countries, had met with stock analysts. He was reporting on his achievements—which were numerous and impressive. Over the prior year or so he had cut $100 million of annual costs out of the firm; consolidated a bunch of bad data centers into two great ones; dumped several businesses that were not core to operations; improved customer response time; and a dozen other advances. He sort of expected the analysts would at least give him a standing ovation, or perhaps carry him out of the room on their shoulders.
By comparing and analyzing hundreds of successful design projects, we found patterns in the kinds of value design typically adds
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by Jay Doblin
published in STA Design Journal
Editor’s Note: One of the last pieces he wrote before he died, Jay summed up his philosophy towards design and innovation. This article gives a wonderful impression of his wit and attitude and his forward-thinking approach to a discipline that has been widely adopted in the years since.
For years, most design problems could be solved by using a combination of design training, experience, and applied intuition. But as the world and its design problems have become more complex, traditional approaches have become less effective.
The notion of design theory may seem woolly-headed and irrelevant, but it has a place: theory can provide a structure for understanding problems and help generate methods for solving them. After may years of being confined to a few oddball schools, design methods are starting to find widespread practical application. Indeed, there are today many classes of design projects (big positioning studies, complex identity programs, massive electronic publishing systems, and systems of products produced in robotic factories among them) that would be irresponsible to attempt without using analytical methods.
Read the PDF of the full article.
by Jay Doblin
For the designer, few things are more intriguing than trademarks. Designers love to make marks, it’s the ultimate aesthetic game. But there’s a hitch. The design process employed for most trademarks becomes fruitless exercise
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