Zollverein School’s New President: Andrej Kupetz

July 26th, 2006

Andrej_KupetzSo today let’s move on to topic 2. on my list from yesterday’s posting: Zollverein School’s new president Andrej Kupetz. However prior to do so I should tell you where his predecessor Prof. Dr. Ralph Bruder is heading for.

Ever since the beginning of this year Bruder is Professor and Head of Institute of Ergonomics (one of the most prestigious academic chairs in this domain in Germany) at the Darmstadt University of Technology. If you have a look at his vita you will recognize that this move is another consequent step in his career. As a trained engineer he’s somehow going “back to the roots” since he’s started his academic career exactly at this university more than 20 years ago.

Interestingly in May this year I’ve written a blog posting titled “Innovation = Engineering” where I’ve discussed the (very often) missing linkages between Engineering, Innovation & Design (A study lead by the Association of German Engineers, VDI somehow describes this gap). Accordingly I find that the appointment committee did a good job when they’ve decided that after the first period represented by Bruder and his background in design + engineering now Kupetz, the trained designer and manager follows. From my perspective the successive nomination of these two professionals is adequately addressing the past and future challenges of the school.

However in order to provide you with some background information on Andrej Kupetz here’s a snippet from a recent press release about him:

Having completed his studies in industrial design, philosophy and product marketing in Berlin, London, and Paris, Andrej Kupetz held a variety of posts including that of design manager at Deutschen Bahn Medien GmbH and that of guest professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. As Managing and Technical Director of the German Design Council in Frankfurt, Kupetz has over the past seven years consistently advanced the council’s role as a service-oriented institute and ensured greater independence from public funding. Under his leadership, the council made progress in linking design to business and science themes and increasing the profile of the council as an advisory body in all areas especially with regard to the public, which is so sensitive to design. ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead a school that is so unique in Europe and whose curriculum is so focussed on increasing professionalism in design, one of the most important economic factors of our time. I welcome the fact that the school’s students come from both the field of design and the field of business.’

Personally I first met and worked with Andrej & the German Design Council (GDC) some years ago. In late 2000 GDC and the Design Management Institute, Boston (DMI) hosted “The 10th International Forum on Design Management Research and Education in Frankfurt, Germany. I’ve had the idea of reconnecting the two institutions not only because they’ve already sent delegates to their board of directors, but also because the GDC is hosting one of the most comprehensive collection of international design literature in Germany. I could have spent hours in their library which is managed by . If you should ever have the chance to stop by just drop her a note and GDC will be happy to welcome you.

In the light of topic 3. (see my previous posting) I think the combination of being rooted within the top level of German design advocacy via the GDC together with its strong international links will prepare Zollverein School of management and design for their next challenges quite well. The upcoming Full-time MBA completely held in English and with applications from across the globe is clearly reflecting this evolution … Stay tuned!


Zollverein School in motion

July 25th, 2006

Well, I’m back again after having taken some days off. I trust you haven’t missed the blog too much given the gorgeous summer we seem to have more or less over the northern hemisphere ;-)

Actually even though things might go slower when it’s that hot outside (and for most of us inside as well ;-) here at Zollverein School some interesting things will take place or already have taken place … but wait, wait let’s do it in chronological order:

  1. On July 31st, 2006 the new Zollverein School main building will be officially handed over to the new owner: The Zollverein School of management and design
  2. From August 1st, 2006 Zollverein School of management and design will have a new president. The new name to keep in mind for the future is: Andrej Kupetz
  3. In September 2006 Zollverein School expects to start the first iteration of the Full-time MBA after having successfully started two classes with their Executive MBA in the last two years

So within the next couple of days I will update you about each of these issues. However let’s shortly address topic 1. right now: The new Zollverein School building.

As you might have noticed on the right hand side Flickr! bar from time to time I’ve uploaded some great pictures of the construction site (just click on any of these photos and you will be directed to our Flickr! portfolio). After all special kudos go to professional photographer Thomas Mayer for documenting the whole construction process from the ground-breaking ceremony over the topping out ceremony to the handover of keys ceremony upcoming Monday for those of you who are more remote than us here in Germany.

Actually the building is not just an ordinary architectural eyecatcher, because due to Zollverein’s status of a World Cultural Heritage you have to know that the Zollverein School building is the first new building to be erected on the Zollverein World Heritage site in 50 years! More notably the building is completed within a time frame of just under four years of planning and construction work

In early 2003, a jury examined the 37 designs entered in the international architecture competition and unanimously selected the design submitted by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the SANAA (Sejima, Nishizawa & Associates) architecture studio. In the months that followed, their design was developed and fine-tuned by a tightly-knit team comprising the client, the architects, designers and construction experts. One of the most noteworthy innovations being used to turn the design into reality is a cost-cutting energy concept that will allow the Zollverein School to use the thermal pit water that is still pumped from the ground at the Zollverein as a source of energy.

The architects represent the new generation of Japanese rationalism. The avant-garde team is in hot demand around the world and recently won the architecture competition for the new building of the New York Museum of Contemporary Art. For the new Zollverein School of Management and Design building, SANAA came up with a design that picks up the basic functional and effective idea used by the original Zollverein architects Schupp and Kremmer. Sejima and Nishizawa have come up with a sharp-edged bright cube that is 34 meters high and has a footprint of 35 x 35 m. According to the jury, the design, which is characterised by extreme purism, fully meets all of the task’s multiple requirements. At the same time, the formal closed appearance of the over-sized cube is broken up by the irregular arrangement of windows. As a Far Eastern counterpart to the austere Bauhaus style, the building radiates an almost poetic power. The design is, as the director of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Glenn D. Lowry, put it when he saw the model, ‘like a burst of jazz in the middle of a classical composition’.

Guests next Monday will include the architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa as well as the Minister for Building and Transport in North Rhine-Westphalia, Oliver Wittke, and finally the Lord Mayor of the city of Essen, Dr. Wolfgang Reiniger.

As I will be present at the ceremony I will surely write a posting about it next week while I’m sure Thomas Mayer will take some nice shots as well ;-) In the meantime stay tuned for the next posting on the new president of Zollverein School Andrej Kupetz!


Design in China (continued)

June 29th, 2006

As written in my previous posting Zollverein School hosts an open evening about Design in China as well as about the future development of a self-sufficient design scene tonight.

Unfortunately I can’t attend the event in person, but I did some quick research in order to update my own knowledge about China. While there seems to be an infinite number of information resources available I’ve stumbled across a BusinessWeek article titled: “China Needs Design That Sells” edited by Patrick Whitney. (Patrick Whitney is the Steelcase/Robert C. Pew Professor and the director of the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology)

Here are some snippets of the article which I’ve found most interesting and which I would like to share and discuss with you:

“China, as we all know, is shifting from the “factory of the world” to a major “market of the world.” As a result, almost every consumer-oriented company has a China strategy — and should also have a China design strategy.”

As said in my intro above the design scene is developing fast and if you don’t get a foot into the Chinese market these days the more than 10.000 industrial designers which annually leave one of the 400 schools offering design classes (according to another BusinessWeek article) will clearly develop their own strategies of entering “their” domain.

“Today, companies designing products for the China market typically create either cheaper versions of Western designs or slightly modified versions of local products. Design is generally not used at the front end of the development process to help discover what its citizens need — instead it is used at the end of the process to make minor changes in appearance.”

As Asian design industry expert David Griffiths explained to Zollverein School students recently the outsourcing of the product design process including rapid prototyping etc. is a real world scenario these days already. The western design industry can only survive if it stays ahead by strategic conceptual thinking in terms of developing customized and socio-geographic related strategies.

“So how will smart companies respond? First, they will adjust their design process to reflect the fact that there is no “China market.” Rather, the country has 30 markets, each one influenced by its own climate, economy, language, history, geography, and culture. China’s consumer needs are as complex as Europe’s. To attain success, both design firms and product manufacturers must employ sophisticated processes to understand people’s desires and needs.”

While I somehow dislike to jump on buzzword bandwagons it seems that an understanding of consumers, cultures and geographic regions needs to go far beyond the traditional focus group. A comprehensive understanding of “Ethnographic Research” seems to be far more appropriate. From my perspective “Ethnographic Research Methodologies” should be included in any curriculum of both parties “Business Education” as well as “Design Education”.

If you’re interested in a closer and more importantly “aside-the-hype” discussion of this domain you should visit the blog as well as the tag cloud on ethnography edited by a highly respected “blogosphere colleague” of mine Steve Portigal.

Design in China: Open evening

June 28th, 2006

I’ve just returned from Paris the other day (hey, it was for business purpose! ;-). I’ve spent the nights at a big hotel (chain) where also several airline crews stay while they have to take their downtime. For breakfast I’ve been placed next to a table where some 15 members of China Eastern Airlines had their breakfast as well and I’ve found it interesting to observe the different eating habits compared to our European ones (please do not read this as biased; I mean “different” in both ways!)

Later on while walking through the streets near the Centre Georges Pompidou and Hotel de Ville I’ve passed a street with one Chinese wholesaler next to the other. Nothing fancy just plain showrooms filled with shipping boxes containing products ranging from consumer electronics over handbags to clothing as well as hats. Unfortunately was on my way for a meeting, because otherwise I would have loved to spend a closer look at the various items and designs. However I’ve been lucky enough to spot some items with familiar logos and shapes which reminded me on something I thought I’ve seen in a quite different sales setting ;-)

Anyway no matter if you are a cosmopolitan traveler or just a plain tourist in the meantime we have all seen similar settings somewhere around the globe and these experiences have clearly influenced the stereotypes we have about China, India, Taiwan, etc. Unfortunately the downside of a stereotype is that it’s hard to be erased once it has been confirmed once or twice. In many cases it finally takes an on-site experience to be convinced of the contrary.

However instead of having to travel to China in order to get useful insights about the Chinese perspective of doing business, copying objects and developing a design industry Zollverein School is organizing an open evening in collaboration with Yue Li, Jian Guo as well as Thomas Hofmann and Thomas Hirt from discover design. They will report about Design and the Design Industry in the business centers of Peking, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

The motto of the open evening with free admission is: “Original and Copy – Design in China today and in the future”. The event takes place on June, 29th 2006 at 19:00 hrs. on the Zeche Zollverein area (Schacht XII, Halle12, Saal 100). An advance note via email is highly appreciated! In any case: You’re welcome!

The Core of … the Design Discipline

June 22nd, 2006

I’ve been pondering quite a few times recently about the key messages for the design discipline based on GK vanPatter’s lecture.

In this context I have to admit that even though my position is that Designers (or Design Managers) need to learn the language of Business and cross the watersides towards management I’ve found his perspective very powerful as well. I find his statements about Design 3.0 and the claim to re-think the impact of designers’ contributions to problem solving from a designer’s perspective very powerful.

Interestingly I’ve stumbled across a Harvard Business School Newsletter article today titled: “The Core of Strategy”. In the course of the article the authors Chris Zook and James Allen assemble a list of “Ten key questions for Management” in order to:

“… see the emerging new landscape and possibilities. Often the historic management team has done a superb job of building and tending the core but along the way has acquired biases and habits that make it difficult to see the need for and commit serious resources to a strategic shift.”

In line with the notion of GK’s perspective described in my earlier posting I’ve found it somehow tempting to apply Zook & Allen’s question to the design context. Just try to correspondingly replace the word “Business” with “Design Business”, “Industry” with “Creative industries” or “Team” with “Professional Community” etc. and you’ll get a quite challenging agenda. What do you think?

Finally here’s the list:

1. What is the most tightly defined profitable core of our business, and is it gaining or losing strength?

2. What defines the boundaries of the business that we are competing for, and where are those boundaries going to shift in the future?

3. Are there new competitors currently at the fringe of our business that pose potential longer-term threats to the core?

4. Are we certain that we are achieving the full strategic and operating potential of our core business, the “hidden value” of the core?

5. What is the full set of potential adjacencies to our core business and possible adjacency moves (single or multiple moves)? Are we looking at these in a planned, logical sequence or piecemeal?

6. What is our point of view on the future of the industry? As a team, do we have consensus? How is this point of view shaping our adjacency strategy and point of arrival?

7. Should major new growth initiatives be pursued inside, next to, or outside the core? How should we decide?

8. Is industry turbulence changing the fundamental source of future competitive advantage? How? Through new models? New segments? New competitors? And what are we monitoring on a regular basis?

9. Are organizational enablers and inhibitors to growth in the right balance for the needed change?

10. What are the guiding strategic principles that should apply consistently to all of our major strategic and operating decisions?

Addendum: GK vanPatter Session

June 21st, 2006

I thought it would be nice to spice up my recent posting with some shots from the event itself. Special thanks go to Prof. Kenta Ono from the Faculty of Engineering, Design Systems Laboratory at the Chiba University, Japan for taking the photos!



Lecture GK vanPatter: Design 3.0

June 19th, 2006

idFirst of all I have to apologise for the time delay ever since my first posting from the recent lecture day. Unfortunately I’ve had to stay in bed for a couple of days, but on the other hand this gave me some time to reflect on GK Patter’s lecture on what he called “Design 3.0”.

First of all I have to note that even though large parts of our professional life take place in a virtualized (business) world these days it’s always great to meet people face-to-face. Accordingly from my perspective it’s essential that in particular educational institutions enable these real, non-virtual experiences and provide appropriate resources.

Accordingly I’ve really enjoyed the intimate atmosphere with an audience consisting of students from class 1 as well as the latest group of class 2 students. For them the lecture and discussion concluded a long day of listening and thinking about change management issues. Fortunately some students were also accompanied by their partners. This might have compensated (at least partially) for the limited time students are able to spend during the 2–year MBA programme ;-) Together with some free drinks and snacks these kind of events should definitively be scheduled more regularly in the future ;-)

In any case GK fortunately had a scheduled meeting in Copenhagen this month which enabled him to visit Zollverein School on his way back to NYC. If you’ve read the latest issue NextD Journal you will notice that his visit smoothly ties up to what seems to have attracted GK’s interest in Zollverein School:

“I was struck by your description of a “mutual respect model” This vision has the potential to be a huge, paradigm shifting idea and a significant differentiator for Zollverein if you can realize this goal. It¹s a great optimistic innovation vision Ralph and one that will hopefully inspire others.”

What GK is pointing at by mentioning “mutual respect model” is (among others) the bias of media promoted protagonists he’s noticing for a while now in the course of the discussion about “Design Thinking” and “Design Leadership”. Accordingly in the section of “NextD purpose” their website you will find the following statement:

“Who will lead design in the 21st century? Here’s a hint: It might not be designers.

There is a realization emerging at the front edge of the marketplace regarding a simple, if not somewhat hidden truth about design today.

As much as we would like it to be otherwise, the simple truth is that design is increasingly being left out of the up-front thinking and strategic portion of complex problem solving situations. While the size and complexity of problems facing clients, facing the world is expanding, the reality is that the scale of problem solving skill among designers has not kept pace.

Although design has been slow to recognize, slow to acknowledge the implications, other professions are already adapting to the new terrain. At the leading edge of the marketplace, the reality is that other professionals are moving in to fill the void as problem solving leaders.”

While it is not my intention to favour any position here after listening to GK I indeed have to acknowledge that he’s somehow right that business side protagonists like BusinessWeek’s innovation & design branch or Rotman’s Roger Martin are representing only one side of the medal. Even though they promote the idea and impact of design, ‘Design’ as a profession with its own heritage is rather ‘utilized’ than actually embraced due to its competencies and methods. That’s at least my understanding of his words.

While this criticism is legitimate the more I’ve been pleased to hear at first hand about the approach/methodology NextD under leadership of GK vanPatter and Elizabeth Pastor have developed. While I do not intend to ruminate what GK has described far better than I could reproduce here please let me point you to the chart NextD published on their website and which illustrates quite comprehensively how they think designers can contribute to innovation and problem solving. Additionally you should have a look at the according Flash presentation as well which explains some of the condensed messages from the chart in more detail.

What makes NextD’s approach unique in contrast to using ‘design thinking’ as a simple vehicle is that they envision ‘Design’ not simply as a means for “Fixing Problems”, but also as a way of “Generating Opportunities”. Accordingly together with Min Basadur (basadur applied creativity) NextD is examining the skills of designers as contributors to cross-disciplinary innovation processes by doing field research with twelve graduate innovation schools in twelve countries.

Earlier this year Zollverein School’s president Prof. Ralph Bruder with his business design class participated in a sort of beta application of NextD’s so called “Defuzzing WHO experiment” (a closer description of the task setting and the outcome can be found from question 12 on in the latest NextD Journal interview).

Basically the model identifies four types of characters: Generators, Conceptualizers, Optimizers and Implementers. Each organizational team naturally consists of different configurations with different proportions of these characters and as GK states:

“There are many ways to think about your team profile. This is WHO your team is in terms of preferences. You can see how the results transcend disciplines. So organizing ourselves just by discipline tags alone is relatively meaningless if the objective is to drive towards innovative results. For example: a Conceptualizer and an Optimizer might be from the same discipline but have very different preferences.”

What I definitively like about this model is that it thinks in terms of competencies and individual preferences rather than in disciplines and stereotypes. From my perspective it’s exactly this openness and embracing character which makes Design 3.0 superior to Design 2.0 which is characterised by the above mentioned “Problem Fixing” school of thought.

For those of you who are interested in a sort of wrap-up of GK’s talk (and what Design 3.0 means) I recommend watching the QuickTime movie with excerpts from his presentation to be found on NextD’s website. After all I hope that his visit hasn’t been the last one at Zollverein School …

David Griffiths at Zollverein School

June 10th, 2006

Griffiths Zollverein Main Presentation - June 06 v1I’ve arrived at Zollverein School an hour ago and I’ve had the pleasure to meet David Griffiths again. David is part of what I would call a global informal Design Management education network. Therefore it’s always fun to (physically) meet him once in a while and discuss what’s going on in the community worldwide.

Since David’s knowledge about the Creative Industries is quite comprehensive he’s always covering a broad range of issues on the intersection of design and business. This time he addressed the current changes which are going on in the design industry on a global scale. This is clearly based on his insights in the course of his engagement for AliaGroup which helps international companies outsourcing creative services to India.

As you can see on the thumbnail above in more detail he’s discussed the implications of the globalization of creative services for the design and management education industry. What I find most interesting is the somehow paradoxical scenario which he describes: While Design gets more and more attention from the corporate boardroom at the same time more and more competitors emerge are trying to capture and explore strategic spaces in the industry. No need to mention the relevance of the competitive position India and China have gained these days.

Interestingly the UK with the Design Council at the lead has always been a leader in research and support of the Creative Industries. Therefore it’s no surprise that the Design Council has teamed with Creative & Cultural Skills and founded “keepbritishdesignalive.com”. On their website you can download a report which David highly recommends and which he’s used in his presentation as well.

What’s next at Zollverein School …

June 2nd, 2006

ZSchool_outsideII_june06.jpgTime flies and while Zollverein School’s project at IdeasPark has just closed last weekend some new events at Zollverein School are already knocking at the door.

At the same time the construction of the new Zollverein School building is making a considerable progress. I’m really excited to have a closer look at the impressive building next weekend when I will meet guest speakers GK VanPatter and David Griffiths in the course of Zollverein School’s Guest lecturing Day on June 10th, 2006.

As you might recall GK VanPatter is the co-founder of NextDesign Leadership Institute. GK recently interviewed Zollverein School’s president Prof. Ralph Bruder for NextD journal. NextD was founded by GK and Elizabeth Pastor with whom he also founded Understanding Lab Inc. a company dedicated to “visually model business ideas and concepts”.

As soon as I know some more details what GK will be talking about I’ll let you know here on this blog. In any case the session is free for the public and everyone interested in Zollverein School is cordially received at 07:00 p.m on next Saturday evening.

Addendum: Annekatrin Sonn just reminded me that in order to plan the sessions accordingly you should please register your attendance for free via email at: .

Nomadic Academy | Closing Note

May 31st, 2006

NA_day1_klein3As you might have recognized two posting have been published recently by Zollverein School members Annekatrin Sonn and Nicolas Beucker. While Annekatrin’s posting provides a good overview about the overall atmosphere at the Hanover trade fair area and the workshop space Nicolas is monitoring “student’s lessons learned” more closely.

Today workshop leader Ed Annink who is the principal of “Ontwerpwerk: multidisciplinary design” in de Hague/NL posted some information and added some nice photos on his corporate website as well.

In any case in accordance with Nicolas I think that an engagement of Zollverein School in such events despite its core focus on concepts in contrast to hands-on design is an appropriate and more importantly tangible demonstration of design as a process.