Last Thursday I was fortunate to attend a Close-Out session of a joint programme of the Design Council and Ceramic Industry Forum at the Design Museum 19th October 2006. I acted as design management thinker in one of the Opportunity Reviews.
The view of the participating companies was that Innovation + Design is a significant engine of growth for building future sustainable business advantage into the future.
Sir George Cox made some penetrating observations:
-The world has changed; I go to a garage for my bread and Tesco for my petrol.
-Innovation is at a premium and plays to our skills, BUT
-we in the UK are poor at exploiting our inventions, insights,ideas; evidence- where are our Googles, Dells, Skypes, Microsofts ( if Bill Gates had been British he would be the biggest distributor of software in Guildford).
-What's our problem? We have potential but don't know it, Lack of aspiration. Every area of the business has to innovate. "Can't innovate. Don't innovate. Go nowhere. " is our mantra.
- we don't understand the relevance of design, suffer from lack of imagination and aren't ambitious enough.
Nuggets from presentations
One sobering report of a presentation early in 2006, by the Chinese Trade and Industry Minister articulated the ambition of that nation:
product pricing is an issue: if a product sells for £100, then
the Chinese get £10
logistics absorbs £10
Wholesalers/distribution take £25
Retailers take £55
It cannot remain so for long.
IN UK terms that translates as " we must defend and extend our position by using design strategically."
Other snippets on the affect of the Design Immersion Programme included:
"It made people think differently" - it helped to close the Columbus gap... Imagine Columbus asking the business angels in the Dragons Den for money to finance his latest venture. "I want to sail round the world." "But the world is flat." "No it isn't its round." "How do you know?" "Well its obvious..." "Everyone accepts the world is flat, so you will fall off the edge and we will see our money go down with you."
"Yes but accepting its flat is not the same as knowing its flat, which it isn't." "Well we are all out on this one, Thanks for coming but Cheerio."
about Design Thinking:
"Design is not important, its critical!"
"We were stumbling round in the dark. At least we now have a torch."
"Answer to our prayers, defendable business, product longevity, route to new distribution and new markets."
"We were not brave enough to talk with top agencies until the programme helped us think more creatively."
"When did you last do someting new? Hm, thirty years ago."
"Made us ask the questions 'Are we giving it to them? Are we giving it to them in the right way?'"
"a different approach evolved ' striving to have the best products, telling people about them,insisting they want them.'"
But one of the concerns expressed by participants in the DIP came through loud and clear:
Embedding Design Thinking takes longer than 12-18 months, so how does one continue to move forward when the programme closes?