Getting Schooled in Innovation!

26 Jan 2005 - 12:49pm
9 years ago
23 replies
1230 reads
Pradyot Rai
2004

I thought this was good article to bring up for discussion on this forum --

Getting Schooled in Innovation --
http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2005/nf2005013_8303.htm

Excerpts:
-------------
"How do you generate profitable innovation? Business schools and
executive education programs have been hard at work for decades
churning out numbers-oriented, metric-measuring, linear-focused
executives who are much better at managing costs than managing
imagination. They're more comfortable teaching people with backgrounds
in engineering than anthropology, math than psychology... Yet
innovation by its very nature requires leaps of faith, attempts to do
what hasn't been tried before, and perhaps most important of all, an
understanding of consumer culture."

"So where should CEOs and middle managers go to learn how to turn
themselves and their companies into great innovators?"

You will not be much surprised with the answer. And that is the point
I want to draw for the discussion. Here's concluding remarks from the
article --

"Smart execs now know this is a key to success in today's world. And
they're turning to design firms -- yes, design -- to learn the ropes "

Is it believable?

Prady

Comments

26 Jan 2005 - 1:32pm
Ted Booth
2004

On Jan 26, 2005, at 9:49 AM, Pradyot Rai wrote:
> "So where should CEOs and middle managers go to learn how to turn
> themselves and their companies into great innovators?"
>
> You will not be much surprised with the answer. And that is the point
> I want to draw for the discussion. Here's concluding remarks from the
> article --
>
> "Smart execs now know this is a key to success in today's world. And
> they're turning to design firms -- yes, design -- to learn the ropes "
>
> Is it believable?

Sure it's believable.

The Institute of Design has been moving the design field in this
direction for years. Having graduated there in 1998, I can attest that
they've been at it since the mid 90s.

Also Bruce Nussbaum writes about design a lot and more recently has
been highlighting the not-just-for-styling-anymore side of design. And
IDEO, of course, has done a great service to the profession, through PR
and completed projects, to improve the overall perception and position
of design.

It's believable because it's happening.

26 Jan 2005 - 1:58pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

Ted Booth wrote:

> Sure it's believable.
>
> The Institute of Design has been moving the design field in this
> direction for years. Having graduated there in 1998, I can attest that
> they've been at it since the mid 90s.

Please elaborate on this point. I want to understand what part of
education is missing from Business Exec.'s world that Design schools
can fill in? Or let me ask it differently -- what course/structure
would be accomodated with Business School curicullum that can create
Innovative Managers?

> Also Bruce Nussbaum writes about design a lot and more recently has
> been highlighting the not-just-for-styling-anymore side of design.

Can you give me the link to his other papers relevant to this topic?

Prady

26 Jan 2005 - 2:18pm
Chris Whelan
2004

Prady,

Thank you for suggesting this article.

You see, I'm always on the lookout for articles
(especially those published in the "business" press)
that might help educate senior managers here about
user-centric design. For that purpose, I must admit
that I found the article disappointing. While the
message of this piece is undoubtedly "invest in design
because you don't know what you don't know", I fear
the it provided a convenient excuse for not doing so.
In other words, strong design is important for all
companies, not just those that physically build
things.

Perhaps I'm searching for a panacea that doesn't
exist, but I thought the article had too much of a
hardware approach. I suspect a senior manager here
would read this and say something along the lines of:
"Yes, this is important for Apple, VolksWagon, or GE,
but our business is different."

Personally I wish the article had more clearly stated
that you can (and must be) an innovative service
company.

__________________________________
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26 Jan 2005 - 2:37pm
Barbara Ballard
2005

>>
>> The Institute of Design has been moving the design field in this
>> direction for years. Having graduated there in 1998, I can attest
>> that
>> they've been at it since the mid 90s.
>
> Please elaborate on this point. I want to understand what part of
> education is missing from Business Exec.'s world that Design schools
> can fill in? Or let me ask it differently -- what course/structure
> would be accomodated with Business School curicullum that can create
> Innovative Managers?

I have a variety of educational background: first engineering, then
design, and now business. In engineering school I learned detailed
numerical analysis as well as the joy of finding the best solution
within a highly constrained environment. In design school I learned
about the process of ideation and idea critiques, especially within
unconstrained environments. In business school I'm learning how to
make the above profitable, how to shoot down ideas, and how many
variables truly need to be monitored/optimized.

I'm also learning quite a bit about entrepreneurism. This is what
really ties everything together for me. Probably the best treatise on
making management innovative in my reading is Peter Drucker's
"Innovation and Entrepreneurship" (Amazon link
http://tinyurl.com/4fhp8). He goes through 140 pages on the practice
of innovation, and another 100 or so on entrepreneurship. It's an
excellent read, and provides a structured view of innovation and
management.

---
Barbara Ballard 1-785-838-3003
barbara at littlespringsdesign.com

26 Jan 2005 - 3:30pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Prady:
"I want to understand what part of education is missing from Business
Exec.'s world that Design schools can fill in? Or let me ask it
differently -- what course/structure would be accomodated with Business
School curicullum that can create Innovative Managers?"

This is a very good question. Traditional MBA programs have been
criticized in the past for producing number crunchers and generalists.
Their graduates can read the most complex spreadsheets but lack any
qualification in people skills and grounding in subjects such as
psychology and human behaviour.

Strategy+Business ran a story sometime back on MBA curriculum reform:

"Furthermore, companies demand specialized knowledge useful to
particular professions. Schools, however, are more likely to deliver
generalists who have trouble digging into special fields that can
distinguish them and their employers. Companies demand leaders who can
powerfully articulate ideas, orally and in writing, to motivate and
guide their people. But schools tend to train people to simply assert
their ideas; they don't sensitize them to the critical value of being
an excellent communicator.
[...]
The study, which assessed 12 skill areas, showed MBA graduates were
significantly better than a control group of university graduates not
enrolled in a business program in seven categories: action, goal
setting, information analysis, information gathering, quantitative
skills, theory, and technology. But the MBAs did not outpace the
nonbusiness group in five other equally critical areas: helping others,
initiative, leadership, relationship, and sense making."

The article went on to make a persuasive argument for change and
provided six concrete recommendations for MBA reform.

http://www.strategy-business.com/press/article/03305?pg=all [one-time
free registration required]

Manu.

26 Jan 2005 - 3:47pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Barbara Ballard:
"I have a variety of educational background: first engineering, then
design, and now business."

Wow!

"Probably the best treatise on making management innovative in my
reading is Peter Drucker's "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" (Amazon
link http://tinyurl.com/4fhp8)."

I wholeheartedly second that recommendation. It's an absolute must-read
for anyone interested in innovation. Far superior to most of the recent
works on the subject. And it comes from someone who invented management
as we know it.

Harvard Business Review recently asked 200 management gurus who *their*
gurus were. Right on top was Peter Drucker.

Manu.

26 Jan 2005 - 4:42pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

Manu Sharma <manu at orangehues.com> wrote:
> Strategy+Business ran a story sometime back on MBA curriculum reform:
> [...]
> The study, which assessed 12 skill areas, showed MBA graduates were
> significantly better than a control group of university graduates not
> enrolled in a business program in seven categories: action, goal
> setting, information analysis, information gathering, quantitative
> skills, theory, and technology. But the MBAs did not outpace the
> nonbusiness group in five other equally critical areas: helping others,
> initiative, leadership, relationship, and sense making."

Great article, but IMHO, that is just generalization. There are
B-Schools which only creates leaderships, initiative, etc... Besides,
I am wondering where is the study that Design education can really
fill that gap?!

But, indeed the article is a great one on questioning the MBA's being
de-facto leaders. To my understanding that boils down to attack the
"analyst" framework of business world to tackle every problem,
involving those which require "design/innovation". Most of the time
analysis creates boundary conditions within which one has to create
"innovation", with innovation being other than analysis. Cookie cutter
MBA's can't differentiate this, or so is my understanding reading
these articles.

Somehow, say, if all those Business Executives are sent to Design
education they will probably understand how to use Design separate
from analysis. In turn they may treat designers slightly better than
considering them "liaison" and may share some more decision making.
What else?

This is segue to my other question --

What is new place for folks like Barbara Ballard (having all in one -
Engineering, Design, Business) in the innovation economy?

Are there people in this list who have changed their career on this
new path, and find Design+Business background a plus?

Thanks in advance,

Prady

26 Jan 2005 - 4:47pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

Barbara Ballard <barbara at littlespringsdesign.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

> I have a variety of educational background: first engineering, then
> design, and now business.

Barbara, I am your mini-me :-)

I started with Computer Software Guy, became Designer and now persuing
MBA. I have college education in Computer Sc., Design. The whole issue
of starting this thread was to figure out where I belong 5 years from
now.

I am interested to hear your future objectives with Business
education. Where are you doing your studies from?

Rgds,

Prady

26 Jan 2005 - 4:55pm
Per Sökjer
2004

Thanks for the article!

Really interesting that it catches on. The design approach is spreading
like the plague ;-)

I'm not really sure what you wondered was believable or not, but when
it comes to
innovation and teaching innovation a design approach must be quite
powerful.
As a designer you must learn to handle and "solve" wicked problems while
maintaining focus on present and future product and use aspects.
Since innovation is mostly about finding solutions to problems, the
design way
would at least be suitable for wicked (design) problems.

Hope the article is a real reflection of current trends.
And I hope this trend comes to my shores soon.

Regards
:Per

2005-01-26 kl. 18.49 skrev Pradyot Rai:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I thought this was good article to bring up for discussion on this
> forum --
>
> Getting Schooled in Innovation --
> http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2005/nf2005013_8303.htm
>
> Excerpts:
> -------------
> "How do you generate profitable innovation? Business schools and
> executive education programs have been hard at work for decades
> churning out numbers-oriented, metric-measuring, linear-focused
> executives who are much better at managing costs than managing
> imagination. They're more comfortable teaching people with backgrounds
> in engineering than anthropology, math than psychology... Yet
> innovation by its very nature requires leaps of faith, attempts to do
> what hasn't been tried before, and perhaps most important of all, an
> understanding of consumer culture."
>
> "So where should CEOs and middle managers go to learn how to turn
> themselves and their companies into great innovators?"
>
> You will not be much surprised with the answer. And that is the point
> I want to draw for the discussion. Here's concluding remarks from the
> article --
>
> "Smart execs now know this is a key to success in today's world. And
> they're turning to design firms -- yes, design -- to learn the ropes "
>
> Is it believable?
>
> Prady
> _______________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
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> Home ................... http://ixdg.org/
>

26 Jan 2005 - 4:57pm
Ted Booth
2004

On Jan 26, 2005, at 10:58 AM, Pradyot Rai wrote:
> Or let me ask it differently -- what course/structure would be
> accomodated with Business School curicullum that can create Innovative
> Managers?

Good question! I don't have an easy answer, but as a start I'd say the
curriculum should teach the MBAs to appreciate qualitative measures and
the value of aesthetics. For a more detailed answer, you might look at
the program and curriculum descriptions at the Institute of Design.
<http://www.id.iit.edu/grad/welcome.html> In short, the ID mixes social
research (cognitive, ethnographic, etc) with product development
(business strategy theory, product development process, etc) and
traditional design (i.e. form making).

In my opinion the best consultancies, still in business, that provide
"innovation services" include:
Jump Associates
<http://www.jumpassociates.com>
Doblin Group
<http://www.doblin.com>
IDEO
<http://www.ideo.com>

It's interesting to note that these firms are staffed with people who
have very cross-disciplinary backgrounds, often with a mix of social
science, business administration and product design/development.

For Bruce Nussbaum, he's a journalist who writes for Business Week and
other periodicals. I don't know of an archive of his writings, but
Google turned this up
<http://www.google.com/search?q=bruce+nussbaum&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8>

Cheers.

26 Jan 2005 - 5:35pm
Tanya Rabourn
2004

Bringing design thinking into management was the topic of
a workshop held in 2002 at Case Western
http://design.case.edu/2002workshop/
http://design.case.edu/2002workshop/positions.html

(Admittedly, the server that design.case.edu runs on and
that site seem to have been abandoned/neglected, but there's
interesting stuff there.)

The book they mention "synthesizing the perspectives and
understandings developed during the workshop" is Managing as
Designing http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0804746745/
Three sample chapters are here:
http://design.case.edu/papers.html

-Tanya

27 Jan 2005 - 5:46am
Peter Boersma
2003

Prady wrote:
> "Smart execs now know this is a key to success in today's world. And
> they're turning to design firms -- yes, design -- to learn the ropes "

Hey, I knew it would come in handy! I just wrote this last Sunday:

Will User Experience merge into Design Management?
http://www.peterboersma.com/blog/2005/01/will-user-experience-merge-into-des
ign.html

"[..] if UX deals with overseeing and orchestrating design efforts, and DM
provides structure and discipline for design efforts, what exactly is the
difference?"

Peter
--
Peter Boersma - Senior Information Architect - EzGov
Rijnsburgstraat 11 - 1059AT Amsterdam - The Netherlands
t: +31(0)20 7133881 - f: +31(0)20 7133799 - m: +31(0)6 15072747
mailto:peter.boersma at ezgov.com - http://www.ezgov.com

27 Jan 2005 - 9:41am
ldebett
2004

I think it's both great and hilarious that Design is the buzz word for
the new millenium. From things like Michael Graves and Target, to the
success of the iPod, to Design showing up in Business magazines, it
can only mean more exposure to the benefits of it. But, of course,
it's not news to any of us!! We're just doing our thing, making it
happen.

It reminds me of when you hear DJs on the radio talk about a singer as
being an "overnight sensation!", but then the singer says, "um, yeah,
I've been touring seedy bars and crappy nightclubs for the past 14
years, working my butt off."

So, does this mean we finally get to put away our presentations for
the execs on the "ROI of Usability and Design" and get back to
Designing? ;-)

~Lisa

Sr. UI Designer
Bose Corporation
-------------------

27 Jan 2005 - 9:52am
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

Lisa:
> So, does this mean we finally get to put away our presentations for
> the execs on the "ROI of Usability and Design" and get back to
> Designing?  ;-)

Nope, It might mean they will listen when you do make the presentation! :D

--Coryndon

27 Jan 2005 - 10:37am
Greg Petroff
2004

Peter, Nice Blog article, thanks for the link. Of interest to others there
is a nice conference in May in Chicago for those who are interested in
Design Management.

http://www.id.iit.edu/events/strategyconference/

I am going to it. Anyone else on the list planning on going?

Greg

Gregory Petroff
desk 212 383 4092
mobile 646 387 2841

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27 Jan 2005 - 10:48am
ldebett
2004

LOL. Well, it's a step up anyway!

~Lisa

On Thu, 27 Jan 2005 14:52:05 +0000, cluxmoore <cluxmoore at dakasa.com> wrote:
> Lisa:
> > So, does this mean we finally get to put away our presentations for
> > the execs on the "ROI of Usability and Design" and get back to
> > Designing? ;-)
>
> Nope, It might mean they will listen when you do make the presentation! :D
>
> --Coryndon
>

27 Jan 2005 - 4:22pm
Megan Fath
2004

Greg Petroff wrote:

> Peter, Nice Blog article, thanks for the link. Of interest to others
> there
> is a nice conference in May in Chicago for those who are interested in
> Design Management.
>
> http://www.id.iit.edu/events/strategyconference/
>
>
> I am going to it. Anyone else on the list planning on going?

Hi Gregory-

I am planning on attending! I am actually part of the planning
committee and am very excited about what promises to be a great
discussion in May. For those unfamiliar with the conference, the
Institute of Design Strategy Conference will discuss the intersection
of business and design (specifically how businesses can utilize design
as a strategy for growth). Speakers will include Bruce Nussbaum from
BusinessWeek, Larry Keeley (Doblin), John Zapolski, Josephine Green
(Philips Design), and Sam Lucente (H.P.).

And I'd love to point you all to some interesting interviews and
articles that offers glimpses to the content that would be discussed at
the conference. Some of these articles can be found online
(www.id.iit.edu/events/strategyconference) and more articles will be
posted as more newsletter editions are mailed.

-- Megan Fath

27 Jan 2005 - 6:57pm
liyazheng
2005

On Thu, 27 Jan 2005 18:36:26 -0500, liya zheng <liya.zheng at gmail.com> wrote:
> As an IxD at a very traditional company, I strongly feel that the lack
> of innovation in management has caused many mental blocks in solving
> organizational problems. They are afraid of design because it's too
> touchy feely, event after listening to the "ROI of Usability and
> Design" and reading Inmates, they still would rather buy servers, new
> monitors or hire more engineers than to invest in good design
> practice. They make their products as if they're trying to patch up a
> pair of old pants with whatever fabric they can find... resulting in
> something rather hideous (unless your'e Diesel then it's a branding
> strategy)... whew i didn't expect to vent, I really just wanted to
> send this info along:
>
> Carnegie Mellon started to offer an MBA track called "Integrated
> Product Development", which brings people from engineering, design and
> business to work together:
> http://web.tepper.cmu.edu/default.aspx?id=142619
>
> And to Lisa, thanks for the uplifting analogy of designers being an
> "overnight sensation", perhaps my dreams of becoming a one hit wonder
> rock icon can still be achieved even if I went into deisgn
>
> =P
> Liya

> > ------------------------------
> >
> > Message: 23
> > Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 09:41:11 -0500
> > From: Lisa deBettencourt <ldebett at gmail.com>
> > Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Getting Schooled in Innovation!
> > To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> > Message-ID: <d6249b61050127064129133080 at mail.gmail.com>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
> >
> > I think it's both great and hilarious that Design is the buzz word for
> > the new millenium. From things like Michael Graves and Target, to the
> > success of the iPod, to Design showing up in Business magazines, it
> > can only mean more exposure to the benefits of it. But, of course,
> > it's not news to any of us!! We're just doing our thing, making it
> > happen.
> >
> > It reminds me of when you hear DJs on the radio talk about a singer as
> > being an "overnight sensation!", but then the singer says, "um, yeah,
> > I've been touring seedy bars and crappy nightclubs for the past 14
> > years, working my butt off."
> >
> > So, does this mean we finally get to put away our presentations for
> > the execs on the "ROI of Usability and Design" and get back to
> > Designing? ;-)
> >
> > ~Lisa
> >
> > Sr. UI Designer
> > Bose Corporation
> > -------------------

28 Jan 2005 - 7:29am
Janna Cameron
2004

> > As an IxD at a very traditional company, I strongly feel that the lack
> > of innovation in management has caused many mental blocks in solving
> > organizational problems. They are afraid of design because it's too
> > touchy feely, event after listening to the "ROI of Usability and
> > Design" and reading Inmates, they still would rather buy servers, new
> > monitors or hire more engineers than to invest in good design
> > practice.

I think part of the issue is that while people probably don't think they
know something about engineering without some special training..
everyone can have an opinion about what is usable. Anyone can look at an
interface and say where they expect things to be.

How can designers sell themselves as having better ideas? Part of the
solution for me is showing that usability is much more than heuristic
evaluations - and that ideas are a result of less "touchy-feely" things like
field studies and usability tests.

I'd be very interested in hearing how other people approach this obstacle.

Janna

28 Jan 2005 - 8:53am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jan 28, 2005, at 7:29 AM, Janna Hickson wrote:

> I think part of the issue is that while people probably don't think
> they
> know something about engineering without some special training..
> everyone can have an opinion about what is usable. Anyone can look at
> an
> interface and say where they expect things to be.
>
> How can designers sell themselves as having better ideas?

Alan Cooper once said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that while almost
everyone has a single opinion, designers should have two reasons for
each decision made, otherwise why bother hiring one.

Dan

28 Jan 2005 - 1:45pm
WOFFORD BRAVMAN...
2005

Janna Hickson wrote:

I think part of the issue is that while people probably
don't think they know something about engineering without some special
training.. everyone can have an opinion about what is usable. Anyone
can look at an interface and say where they expect things to be.

How can designers sell themselves as having better
ideas?

It's important for designers to understand that many people believe that
design is about subjective, gut reactions and that if there is any
inherent value in it that it comes from a designer's "artistic talent."
And in a way, don't our own ego-driven attitudes contribute to that
perception?

About half of my work involves compiling research findings and
communicating justification for design decisions because other team
members consider their design-related opinions every bit as valid as my
own. I find it is helpful to be prepared for personal opinions and to
listen to them. Sometimes they are valid, sometimes out of left-field.
If they are valid, integrate the ideas into your design, if not be ready
to back up your argument with data. Team members, clients and leadership
appreciate that I acknowledge their opinions, and then are more willing
to accept my recommendations and decisions. Often it's about developing
relationships over the long-term.

28 Jan 2005 - 2:06pm
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

> I think part of the issue is that while people probably don't think they
> know something about engineering without some special training..
> everyone can have an opinion about what is usable. Anyone can look at an
> interface and say where they expect things to be.

Janna:

My approach: Of course everyone has their own personal ideas about
what is good or bad about a design.

The value of design professionals is that we have techniques and
training for identifying the deeper (population-level) problems that
lie behind shallow (individual) symptoms, and then for producing
innovative designs that address the root problems, not just the
symptoms.

<motherhood><apple pie>Thou art not thy user</apple pie></motherhood>

-Gerard

--
Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

28 Jan 2005 - 2:31pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

Gerard Torenvliet wrote --
> My approach: Of course everyone has their own personal ideas about
> what is good or bad about a design.
>
> The value of design professionals is that we have techniques and
> training for identifying the deeper (population-level) problems that
> lie behind shallow (individual) symptoms, and then for producing
> innovative designs that address the root problems, not just the
> symptoms.

Excellent point. It is not a threat to our profession that anybody can
be judgemental or opinionated about design. The new role that we are
talking about "Business + Design" leverage more streangths of
Designers to take all that it takes to innovate, follow the process,
analysis, applying constraints and bring out a solution that is
acceptable to all. That is the "human" quality we said is lacking in
the latest MBA class.

Although, I am aware of moments when experts (designers in this case)
need to shut themself in a corner and work out all possible
alternatives to come to a unique solution. But those are rare moments
and are quite few. So in all other cases, if people are giving you
their opinions, thank them.

Prady

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