Guest Posting: Mark Vanderbeeken |

February 9th, 2006

Workshop on design and innovation for top Piedmont decision makers:

In mid-January 2006, Torino Internazionale (, the strategic agency for the city of Turin and the region of Piedmont, and the user experience company Experientia ( organised a successful workshop on design and innovation.

The workshop, which was aimed at top Piedmont decision makers, was lead by Richard Eisermann, director of design and innovation of the UK Design Council and moderated by Roberto Verganti, Professor of innovation management at the Politecnico of Milano.

The more than 30 people present - leaders in charge of political entities, academic institutions, industry associations, businesses and design-related organisations - brainstormed on the challenges of translating user-centred design approaches to new strategies for regional innovation and on the opportunities provided by Turin’s designation as World Design Capital in 2008.

For those interested, an English language interview with Richard Eisermann surf this way >>>

(Submitted by Mark Vanderbeeken 09.02.06)

Aggregator Blog from the Olympic City of Torino

February 8th, 2006

Well, my last postings should have given you some good stuff to think about. Therefore today a short posting ;-) As you have noticed last night Marc Vanderbeeken has left a comment to my posting: “Designing Contexts: Co-creating Services”. I’ve felt quite pleased about this for 3 reasons. Let me tell you why:

  1. Mark is one of the fastest bloggers I’ve met so far. He seems to have his right & left brain directly connected to the keyboard of his computer and instantly posts on his blog “Putting People First” whenever a webnews in the filed of experience design gets to his attention. Beside his passion for blogging Marc is a senior partner in the new experience design company Experientia and a strategic communications consultant based in Torino/Italy.
  2. Mark’s blog is on my RSS feed for more than 6 months now and even though experience design is not 100% on my personal focus I’ve been looking for an appropriate opportunity to promote his blog to a wider audience for a while ;-) Well, this has been done know ;-) and his blog is definitively staying on my bloglines list!
  3. Finally in his recent comment Mark confirms my assumption that the insights of the RED Unit report might be well suited to be transfered to other contexts as well. Far more interesting Mark reports that he has organised a workshop with Richard Eisermann, Head of Design & Innovation UK Design Council recently on the transformation of the Piemont region. If you’re interested in some more details go and contact Mark via his PPP (Putting People First) blog.

Well, while writing this posting I wonder why I shouldn’t ask Mark for sharing some details via a guest posting here on this blog?! Stay tuned!

Designing Contexts: Co-creating Services

February 7th, 2006

openhealthLooking back to my previous posting about the formation of business & creative clusters today I’ve decided to randomly post about strategic spaces which will be relevant for designers (and I mean this in the broadest and literal sense!) now and in the future. While I’m only a single voice in the market I’m thankful for any help & advise on relevant topics readers of this blog might find helpful! If you follow the recent debate among design & management related blogs as well as coverage in the business press “Customer Co-Creation” is one of the keywords you come across quite often. Interestingly the concept of co-creation goes back to the 1990’s to two of the leading business thinkers C.K. Prahalad and Venkatram Ramaswamy expressed in their book: The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. So what is co-creation mainly about? I’ve found this useful description at and I take the liberty to quote from their site:

“Co-Creation, in which value is not created in the firm and then exchanged with the customer, but in which value is co-created by the firm and the consumer. Value will have to be jointly created by both the firm and the consumer. In the traditional system, where firms decide on the products and services they will manufacture, by implication they decide what is of value to the customer. In this system, consumers have little or no role in value creation. During the last two decades, managers have found ways to partition part of the work done by the firm and pass it on to their consumers. Be it self-checkout, involvement of a subset of customers in product development, or a range of variants in between. Note that Co-Creation goes far beyond being merely customer oriented.”

Connected to this notion of creating products and services it becomes obvious that in an economy where information is flowing almost boundless via various media channels consumers’ self-confidence and stakes in terms of feeling respected by all sort of organisations are increasing. Interestingly one of the leading design organisations in the world the UK Design Council has published a report about co-creation of health services last year. Under the leadership of UK Design of the Year 2005 Hilary Cottam the Design Council’s RED Unit has defined co-creation as follows:

‘Co-creation should be the foundation for services configured and organised in new ways, in which users are participants in the design, creation and delivery of services,’ …

Even though the report is focused on the healthcare industry I’m pretty sure that the report provides useful hints on how to transform clusters like the Ruhrgebiet and the Zollverein areal into a creative hotspot which represents the design efforts of a multitude of stakeholders. Coincidentally RED just released additional support material documenting the “Co-Design” and “Co-Creation” by free PDF downloads as well as a short Quicktime movie to be found here >>>

Mapping (Creative) Clusters

February 6th, 2006

From various conversations with students at the Zollverein School I know that some of their interim projects have dealt with business plans on how to leverage from the heritage of the former coal mine areal as well as from the status of a “UN World Heritage” donated in 2001. In the late 1920ties, architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer created the first drafts for Zollverein Shaft XII - a masterpiece of industrial architecture. Their aesthetic and clean designs should become a blueprint for a whole generation of facilities.

The organisation in charge for the areal is the “Entwicklungsgesellschaft Zollverein mbH” and on their website they’ve assembled an impressive amount of interactive tools in order to explore the areal also from a distance. So just in case our international visitors are not familiar with the Zollverein complex yet you might want to have a look at the areal via a Quicktime enabled helicopter flight. During the flight you will also see where the new Zollverein School building will be located from Summer 2006 on. Recent photos taken at the construction site can be found on the Flickr-sidebar of this blog on the right.

Similar to many other former hotspots of last century’s Industrial Age around the world the process of transformation to a new era dominated by creativity and innovation is not an easy one. And Zollverein is clearly not the only creative cluster in the Europe or the world. However today’s posting by Dominic Basulto from “The Innovation Insider” (the successor of the FORTUNE Innovation Forum Blog) is pointing to some interesting insights and research on the chances of mapping industrial and creative clusters like Silicon Valley or Creative London.

While the Red Herring article as well as the Harvard Cluster Mapping Project are mainly referring to Silicon Valley as one of the most copied clusters the information also sheds some positive light on the prospects of the creative cluster created at the Zollverein areal in Essen and the Ruhrgebiet in general (Quote taken from “The Innovation Insider” who quoted from the “Cluster Mapping Project”):

“The conventional wisdom is plain wrong. Clusters, the jobs they create, and the prosperity of surrounding communities are far from static. This is an evolutionary process, and being a successful cluster, like Silicon Valley—that’s not the end of it. Some people thought that because of globalization, clusters would disperse, but instead what we see is that existing clusters become more specialised, and more focused on specific things that create value and employment.”

These insights combined with Richard Florida’s ideas about the “Creative Class” together with the developments at the Zollverein areal and the Zollverein School of management and design in particular are quite promising I think. Let’s see if any of the prospect dissertations are picking up this topic?

Design Institute of Australia: Understanding Corporate Identity

February 4th, 2006

The Design Institute of Australia host a series of articles written by design professionals about the various fields of the design industry. From quickly browsing through the list I understand that they are mainly aiming at helping designers to sell their products and services better.

Therefore one shouldn’t expect too much of a “the next big thing” style information, but in contrast some nicely written summaries on what “we already know for years, but always being too busy to write it down stuff”.

Today Robert Paulmann’s portal on “Corporate Identity” (actually you can’t call it a blog; but hey he’s offering an RSS-Feed!) has pointed me to a five parts column series about “Understanding Corporate Identity – the first in a five part series to answer client’s questions.”. For those of you interested in CI have a look at Paulmann’s impressive repository of links and article snippets as well as David Robertson’s series on CI.

It’s that easy: Writing your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day!

February 3rd, 2006

Once in a while students ask me for my advice prior to starting their master thesis. Questions usually comprise issues on formal requirements, writing style, research methodologies or time planning.

While there is a broad range of literature on the market I would like to present my top 3 list of books addressing the issues mentioned above. Throughout the years they’ve all helped my with my own academic writing as well. So here it goes:

  • Joan Bolker: Writing your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day:

“Dissertation writers need strong, practical advice, as well as someone to assure them that their struggles aren’t unique. Joan Bolker, midwife to more than one hundred dissertations and co-founder of the Harvard Writing Center, offers invaluable suggestions for the graduate-student writer. Using positive reinforcement, she begins by reminding thesis writers that being able to devote themselves to a project that truly interests them can be a pleasurable adventure. She encourages them to pay close attention to their writing method in order to discover their individual work strategies that promote productivity; to stop feeling fearful that they may disappoint their advisors or family members; and to tailor their theses to their own writing style and personality needs. Using field-tested strategies she assists the student through the entire thesis-writing process, offering advice on choosing a topic and an advisor, on disciplining one’s self to work at least fifteen minutes each day; setting short-term deadlines, on revising and defing the thesis, and on life and publication after the dissertation. Bolker makes writing the dissertation an enjoyable challenge.” (Book description with credits to

  • Robert Yin: Case Study Research: Design and Methods:

“Robert Yin’s comprehensive presentation covers all aspects of the case study method–from problem definition, design, and data collection, to data analysis and composition and reporting. Yin also traces the uses and importance of case studies to a wide range of disciplines, from sociology, psychology and history to management, planning, social work, and education.” (Book description with credits to

  • Wolf Schneider: Deutsch fürs Leben:

“Für Journalisten ist professionelles Schreiben so wichtig wie der Schraubenschlüssel für den Schlosser. Was ihr oberster Sprachlehrer Wolf Schneider sagt, kann jeder nutzen, der professionell schreiben will — und das funktioniert offenbar: Seine Lehrbücher sind Bestseller.” … “Kampfschrift wider den Sprachschluder ist auch Deutsch fürs Leben, das abschreckende Beispiele, vornehmlich von renommierten Publikationen, vortrefflich vorführt. Ein lebendiges, nützliches und — das darf man erwarten — sprachlich brillantes Buch, um das niemand herumkommt, der professionell schreiben will. –Frank Rosenbauer” (credits go to

If you have any suggestions for other books which have helped you and which you might find useful please or leave a comment for this posting by clicking on “comments” below this posting.

Move forward - Who needs your gift now?

February 2nd, 2006

As my previous posting is indicating there’s a life after the MBA ;-) and I’ve had interesting discussions with some students about their plans after finishing their MBA by the end of this year.

Interestingly previous experiences with students from other design management programmes as well showed that engagement in post graduate programmes like the MBA here at Zollverein School very often leads to resigning the current position and a quest for new challenges (not necessarily outside the organization). While this may sound initially worrying it demonstrates the impact of such programmes in terms of what good content can stimulate …

One good advice in order to make this process as smooth as possible is to start thinking about these transitions early on. Again it’s Canada’s Dave Pollard who provides some excellent ideas (and accordingly illustrations) in his posting called “Who Needs Your Gift Now?” on:

“… (the) need to find or create the job where What We Do Well, What is Needed and What We Love Doing overlap.”

David’s posting from Jan. 21st called “Finding Where Your Passion, Your Genius and Your Purpose Meet” refines this model by adding some relevant self-check questions in order to help you focusing on the right projects and goals. Here is his list:

  • Does it pay enough?
  • Do you have time for it?
  • Is your ability recognized?
  • Is your ability appreciated?
  • Is the need recognized?
  • Is the need recognized?

However very often you feel as if you’re captured by your own frameworks, thinking in the same direction (for years) and hanging out with the same old people (for a long time). Therefore one first step to break out is to look for places and spaces where to find new inspiration. These can be conferences which you find interesting as well as cultural events in general.

For professionals from the creative industries the annual DMI conferences in Europe and North America are clearly a good choice to meet folks like you. However very often these events have the character of entering a somehow “closed community”.

Therefore recent fresh initiatives like the Design 2.0 one-day symposium to held by mid February and organized by CORE77 & BusinessWeek might be a good alternative.

Finally an event I’ve never attended, but of which I’ve simply heard so much positive feedback is “InnoTown” an annual event to be held in Norway. I definitively wish to attend this conference one day … any sponsors out there? ;-) This description is from their website:

“InnoTown is Innovation Norway´s annual innovation conference. It is a truly unusual business conference for people who want to open up to the new opportunities that lie beyond the traditionally tried and tested.

The aim of InnoTown is to move people’s minds, both rationally and emotionally; to inspire and enhance creativity and innovation, to help motivate people to think new thoughts and dare to fail – to succeed.

The conference emphasizes vision, inspiration, strategy, creativity, promotion and internationalization. It creates good relations between people from different countries, trades, environments and professions. This results in stimulating new ideas and the developing, deepening and widening of existing knowledge and values.”

So if you’d wish to expand your current or build new networks this might be a great opportunity to combine a business conference with some vacation in the mid of Norway. My favorites among this year’s presenters are:

  • Guy Kawasaki: Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures, and former Apple Computer evangelist. Palo Alto, USA
  • Rowan Gibson: Business Strategist / Author /Expert on Radical Rethinking, Essen, Germany
  • Polly LaBarre: Author, “Mavericks at Work” and former senior editor Fast Company magazine, New York, USA

Any other events you can imagine which might help you to think out of the box?

MBA and now? Go to India!

January 31st, 2006

I’ve already written some pieces about the growing importance of India and China on this blog recently. A few minutes ago David Griffiths, a friend of mine from the design management context and a lecturer at the Zollverein School send me this email:

“The firm is Idiom - [job roles are listed on the site under “Careers”] - please copy this email to anyone who maybe interested in working in India with a Top 5 Design Consultancy.”

On idiom’s website you will find the clickable career logo on the lower end of the site and the listing reads quite impressive ranging from graphic, space to furniture design as well as project management positions.

While some jobs are looking for juniors idiom is also searching for seniors as well! May you live in interesting times …

On needs, wants, and nice-to-have’s

January 30th, 2006

Last weekend I’ve had the chance to communicate the basics about this blog to the first class of Zollverein School MBAs who will be (hopefully ;-) contributing to this blog soon and share insights about recent projects they’ve been working on.

I was lucky to arrive a little bit earlier at the Zollverein Site and I’ve been impressed about the construction progress of the new Zollverein School of management & design building. I’m really looking forward to this summer when one of Europe’s most attractive school buildings will be opened to the public as well as hosting the Zollverein School itself. As you might have noticed I’m randomly “flickring” (maybe a new verb ;-) photos about things going on here as well as some impressive shots from the building itself. If you’re not familiar with “Flickr” yet, just click on any of the radomly changing images on the right.

While waiting for my time “on stage”, I’ve grabbed the end of the session where some of the MBA class of 2006 students presented their master thesis concepts to be completed later this summer. Without digging further into details about the topics itself today (some students will post about them soon) one thing became apparent: While from a broader perspective all ideas I’ve listened to are highly interesting some of them somehow lack a clear focus on what (my highly admired ;-) Dave Pollard called: “Know What Urgent Problem You’re Uniquely Solving”!

Dave’s blog on “Business Innovation” is always a good address when you are looking for “back to basics” advice and he usually illustrates his ideas with concise charts. Quoted from his blog the latest posting is about

… ’solutions’ that are really interesting, quite feasible, and well within their area of competency, but which fail to uniquely solve an urgent problem (in the eyes of whoever is paying for it).”

and David is classifying innovative ideas and market offerings as

“needs, wants, and nice-to-have’s.”.

While this classification first reads quite generic I think it really helps you to sort out if your concept is a) relevant and b) making the right assumptions. This does not necessarily mean that ideas and concepts (particularly in the academic context) always need to address needs first, but it helps to make yourself aware how to integrate your ideas in a say larger “value chain” of ideas!

What is Design Management?

January 27th, 2006

This posting is for Annkathrin Sonn ;-), the new person in charge for Corporate Communications at the Zollverein School of management and design in Essen/Germany. Annkathrin recently joined the Zollverein School and while having a conversation with her last Tuesday I’ve learned that she’s highly interested in the intersection of business, management & design. As with everyone who’s not in too deep into the topic she finally asked for my perspective/definition on/of Design Management … ;-)

Well, somehow this is a real “killer question” since the scope of the design management (at least from my still limited ;-) profession is quite broad. Basically a good starting point to narrow down the field is to make a semantic distinction. Consequently Design Management can be a) The Management of the Design Process as well as b) The Design of the Management Process. Accordingly you can also replace the nouns with verbs resulting in: a) to manage the design process or b) to design the management process. The scope of this semantic space is comprehensive and offers many nodes to enter the domain.

After all my past experiences with business professionals as well as students entering the field showed that they mostly tend to see Design Management closely related to option a) “to manage the design process”. Interestingly this is also the dominant perspective which you will mostly find in Germany (if there is an articulated one at all ;-). This might be due to the fact that traditionally German design has always been strong in the area of product design and consequently senior designers or industrial design agencies mostly identify their responsibilities in the field of “operationally managing the design process” both internally and/or for their clients.

However like many other business disciplines design has never been a static domain as well. Today designers shape products as well as processes. In particular the emergence of digital technologies does enable designers to test and prototype processes and products long before marketing or management has considered thinking about them. And this is particularly true for all of the three main design domains: product, graphic and digital design. Consequently designers are able to raise their voice far earlier in the development process of products and services as they were used to be in the past. Therefore prototyping what actually can be done by using mock-ups, CAD Tools and even 3D empowered PDFs are powerful means to communicate the contribution and consequently value of design. Finally the early engagement of designers in the concept phase releases the design discipline from being responsible for narrowed field of styling only.

As a matter of fact this development requires designers to think about products and processes in a more holistic way as well. Earlier integration into the development process & discussion clearly requires the consideration of far more product/process stakeholders than in the past.

However let’s return to Annkathrin’s quest for a definition of Design Management. It’s almost eight years ago now that the Design Management Institute published an article called “18 views on the definition of Design Management” (DMI Journal, Summer 1998) where 18 executives from various disciplines were asked for their views on the field. As a matter of course you can clearly see the professional background from which the definitions arise (for some more quotes surf this blog), but interestingly each time I re-read the article I find a different perspective which I like most.

In the context of this posting I’ve liked the definition of Sohrab Vossughi, President of ZIBA Design most since it describes the changed level of design integration as described above quite well:

“Communication is the essence of design management. Products, uniforms, buildings, Web sites — design management can make a contribution in any area in which communication takes place. The newest frontier is process design. Designers should look beyond the conventional activities, such as packaging, graphics and product design. Designers have an important role to play in defining how companies use information. How is product information documented and communicated? How are new employees trained? How can the customer experience be simplified and refined?”

Anything to add, dear readers? ;-) What are your views or definitions?