Thursday 31 May 2012

AGIdeas - Advantage Business Breakfast Insights

Charlwood Design enjoyed some valuable insights from this year's AGIdeas advantage business breakfast.

The focus at this year's event was creating value for your business through design innovation. The work and thoughts of the speakers was incredibly inspiring and highlighted the breadth in which design can have a positive impact on a company's success. We thought we would share a brief summary of some our favorite insights from the event from an industrial designer's perspective.

Göran Roos - a global expert in intellectual capital science, manufacturing innovation and strategy MC'd the event. He set the overarching theme across all the speakers - that design can be a positive contributor to all aspects of a business's operations and success, as long as companies don’t simplify design as styling or art. He stated that the objective of design is to generate and achieve behavioral change; change that is desirable for the user, beneficial to the supplier and positively impacts other stakeholders.

Roos' thoughts on Apple's design objective were interesting, highlighting that they didn't necessarily  invent new technology but rather redesign the delivery of their product so everyone in the "eco system" benefits. Clearly Apple benefits but also the app developer and the telco carrying the data.

Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer, 3M echoed this view. He spoke of a new social scenario where consumers today are much more difficult to categorise and understand and this has had resulted in companies, like 3M, needing to fulfill the an emotional desire in the user as well as complete a functional task.
He spoke about the emotional flow in the life of the product that spans 3 phases. The initial visceral relation when viewing the product before purchase, the interactive relationship withe product and the expressive relation - the act of sharing the product and your impression of it with others.

One of our favourite quotes of the day came from Mauro when he said "listen to your customers, but don't believe them..." A great expression of the value of design research, in particular the value of observing how the user interacts with your product and it's features, which is often different to how they would describe it in a design brief. Our team is a firm believer in quality research and often employ ethnographic and participatory design research techniques as part of our design process.

Finally Mauro's definition of "design strategy" was interesting, because it was different to how many conventional companies define it. Design strategy is a business strategy that leverages design. It is not just a consistent look for the brand, but rather a valuable business asset. To achieve this design needs to be ingrained into the culture of the company. Design led companies learn, they adjust but they don’t compromise.

AGideas Business Breakfast Snapshot - Image courtesy of

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