Core77: Design 2.0 | Discussions on Design, Strategy & Innovation


On February, 28th 2006 CORE77 invited designers and non-designers into the Union Square Ballroom, to discuss how design-thinking can help to reduce complexity. The location was a very stylish room 12 feet under the Union Square in New York. Even it’s almost one week ago I recall the many very interesting people on stage and in the auditorium.

After an introduction by Bruce Nussbaum, Managing Editor of the BusinessWeek Innovation and Design Blog the first Speaker Kevin Farnham, CEO of Method presented his amazing know-how in just 20 minutes. His answer to the complexity question is people with different skills, starting their strategic work with a firm understanding of the users. They have to go and talk to the people to discover how the product effect their lives. There are new channels to reach customers. Especially for interface innovation there is a new relationship between consumer electronics, networks and process power. Their need is a sustainable innovation approach. The communication via the interfaces has to be consistent as there are more and more companies like - Google and Yahoo- who contact their customer just using them. Creating value and experience for customers through interfaces lead to brand loyalty! After the speech I talked with to Kevin and it was very interesting to hear he did not just see chances of design-thinking but also threats. Design-thinking is a very good approach to discover the customers lives but it is not the only and lonely tool for every company and industry. For him, designers should be very careful, with what they promise!

Marissa Mayer - Vice President, Search Products & User Experience from Google - presented the “Chi of Google“. Their everyday challenge is to provide a simple interface to their customers to help them managing all the data in world wide web. The design of the interface has to help users developing themselves from novices to experts (1st rule of Google’s design principles). It is a learning process because you cannot label everything. Further rules are: Don’t make users think. Focus on ease and speed. The goal is not to overwhelming customers with thousands of features. What really impressed me was the point that 300 - 700 machines are involved from the moment you punch in your search until you get your hits in 0.2 seconds! That’s a lot of equipment to reach Google’s Chi: Simplicity.

Jeneanne Rae, Co-founder of Peer Insight, followed. For her nothing is real until it is experienced and the “ongoing relationship defined by multiple touchpoints” is the goal for innovative companies. These touchpoints have to engage the senses, evolve over time, and include functional and emotional elements. The challenge is to identify and win the moment of truth. There is the 1st moment of truth (e.g. at the point of sale) and the 2nd moment of truth (when the customer is using the product). I think that is very important. For me, it is an authentic way of behaviour. Just with a good insight of what your customer really needs, in which way you configure your value chain and a good selection of partners, you will have success. She proposed to entrust the customers to co-create their own experience!

Last speaker was Andrew Zolli - Founder of Z-Plus Partners. He is really a comedian with a clear opinion of the today’s and tomorrow after tomorrow’s challenges. These challenges are about to be experienced right now. For him, every company has a competitor in the world. They all offer the same. He called this “the tyranny of choice“. An example for this tyranny is the products in a grocery store. There are  about 40.000 products but as a customer you just can pay attention to 160. Or there are e.g. 100 of search engines in the web - but we just know 3 (or?). For me, the point concerning the search engines really makes the importance of why brand matters clear. It is all about customers orientation by the brand. The third example of too many choices was his last jeans-buying-experience at the GAP-Store. He just wanted to have the jeans he used to have  - and not the 6.000 other models. If creating experiences is the most extreme companies can go right now - what would be he next big value after experiences? For Andrew Zolli it’s culture. Brand is culture and the customer will mix and remix them all at one time. For me it is the question: Could be there an open-source brand in the future?

After these very interesting hours, the conversation between panelists and audience was relatively short. Here some statements:

“Designers are becoming a tool for identification of problems”
“You cannot just have to look at the end-user - you have to look at the stakeholder. It’s important to identify the stakeholder”
“This is not the big innovation model - it’s about 100 consistent innovations”
“What is design thinking? Becoming a child again!”
“Prototyping - designers used to prototype”
“Ask questions”. “Design-thinking has to grow”
“It is not important from whom the innovation comes in the company - maybe from the designer, maybe from the technologist”

After that, everybody was moving into the bar. It was very interesting that the audience was a nice mixture of people who work as designers and other who work as engineers or managers in companies you would not expect to meet at “design discussion”, like big pharma companies. For me it was really an experience. Many thanks to the CORE77 Team and especially to Allan Chochinov. I think we are on the right track at the Zollverein School, but here in Germany we have a lot of things to do, that “design thinking” will be noticed in the same way like it is, noticed in the U.S.

3 Responses to “Core77: Design 2.0 | Discussions on Design, Strategy & Innovation”

  1. Zollverein School Blog » Blog Archive » MBA Student Report | Core77: Design 2.0 Conference Says:

    […] Archives « Core77: Design 2.0 | Discussions on Design, Strategy & Innovation Blog Posting Debut » […]

  2. Joe Moak » Core77 and BusinessWeek’s Design 2.0 Conference Says:

    […] Bruce Nussbaum - BusinessWeek Design Innovation and Design Coverage Rolf Mehnert - MBA, Zollverein School Blog […]

  3. Zollverein School Blog » Blog Archive » Zollverein School student conference-hopping … Says:

    […] While talking about attending conferences, you might recall that some weeks ago another Zollverein School student, Rolf Mehnert, visited the Core77/BusinessWeek forum “Design 2.0: Discussions on Design, Strategy & Innovation” in New York. Kudos to Core77 since in the meantime Allan Chochinov and his folks created a dedicated space for this and the upcoming conferences and has assembled a nice de-briefing area about the New York conference with podcasts, photos and conference reviews (Rolf’s among them ;-) […]

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