Tag Archives: Strategy

Great article on the design of the Samsung Instinct for Sprint

Parrish, head of the Experience Planning group at Motorola pointed me in the direction of this article on the development of the Samsung Instinct for Sprint. The discussion came about as we were talking about how large companies such as Microsoft, Boeing and Target were using smaller design groups to spur the larger company to take greater chances. The talk then led to the concept of open innovation, which was a topic I had just finished writing a paper on.

Anyway, here’s the link:

This semester at ID

So it’s the start of a new semester at the Institute of Design – and I finally was able to register for classes so I thought I’d give all of you a heads up on what’s going to be keeping me very busy this semester.

The first three classes are from the Institute of Design and the last three are classes towards my MBA. I do like how my classes cover different parts of user centered innovation process, from conceptualization of an idea to product pricing to leadership and management.

Product Form – The form of a product is a result of resolving technical conditions, organizing the product for use, and a means for communicating. In this course students examine what technical and social dimensions impact product form and conversely, how product form can be controlled by the designer to improve the product’s performance. Topics include the relationship between a product’s form and corporate identity, visual trends, new materials, manufacturing techniques, semantics, product architecture, ergonomics, specific industries, and others.

New Product Definition- This course introduces students to the professional and theoretical aspects of the product definition process. It covers the process of creating a new product definition in detail, the characteristics of new product definition documents and aspects of organizational structure and dynamics as they relate to developing new product definitions.

Research & Demo -Research and Demo projects are semester long consulting projects with real clients with real problems. I can’t reveal too much detail about this project since it’s still being scoped but I’ll be working with a couple of friends at ID, advising us will be Jeremy Alexis, a professor at ID and our clients are a design consultancy and a very very large aviation company.

Strategic Competitiveness – Understanding of the concept of Strategic Competitiveness (SC), with a command over powerful concepts including strategic positioning, industry clusters, the economic diamond, the corporate value chain, and the global supply chain. The student will apply the appropriate SC concepts through analysis of “real-world” situations.

Organizational behavior – Topics include individual differences in motivation, perception, culture and learning style; group and organizational dynamics; and the impact of organizational structure and culture on behavior.

Managerial economics – The behavior of firms and households and the determination of prices and resource allocation in a market economy. Topics include empirical demand, production and cost functions, monopoly, oligopoly, and pricing practices.
I’ll update this blog during the semester and let you know what I’ve been learning from these classes.

Wrap up from the Institute of Design’s Strategy Conference


I have some time this morning to write a quick summary of the Institute of Design’s Strategy conference which happened last week at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. This was one of the best conferences I’ve attended. Most of the speakers were excellent, the crowds were packed and there was definitely a sense of optimism in the air, quite unlike the prevailing sentiments you can find gracing any of our newspapers today.

Having an amazing seat at the third row didn’t hurt either – changes it from watching to engaging.

Some quick summaries of the presentations I thought were most interesting with my key takeaways.

Bill Buxton – Bill is a principle researcher at Microsoft. One of his points was that the success of design rests on where it’s situated within a company. When design is hidden under layers of management, it rarely has a chance to shine. As a case in point, Bill highlighted the timeline of Apple’s success, noting that Jonathan Ive was employed by Apple several years before it’s first big product hit, the iMac. It took Steve Jobs taking over the company to bring design up to a level where it could affect change. Oh, one more point which Bill made – never call the people who buy your products a consumer. When companies look at people through the lens of “consumption”, they will rarely be able to partner with them to create the kind of innovations which drive company growth, even during recessions.

Scott Cook – Interesting story on the founding and continued success of Intuit. I liked his quote ” Seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else thought”. I had a chance to speak with Scott at the reception and there were a lot of details missing from the story, it was nevertheless interesting to speak to him. There was a point made by Scott that I never quite got an answer for – he mentioned that executives in companies are layers away from what customers are saying and thus can rarely spot the breakthrough innovations. He gave an anecdotal story that even at HP, Dave Packard turned away many of the ideas that later came to be successful. Not sure how to validate a comment like that but it that’s true, what can executives do to be closer to the needs of their customers. Does the modern day executive need to pull a Henry Vth, disguising themselves to be closer to their guest.

Matt Mason – Co-Founder of Wedia and author of the The Pirate’s Dilemma, gave one of the conference’s best presentations about youth culture, piracy and what companies can do to combat it. He had many points to make but the ones that I thought were particularly interesting were companies use openness to combat obscurity such as Nike selling tricked out versions of Air Force One after Bathing Ape released pirated copies of Air Force One with their own crazy artwork. The next point he made was to sell what can’t be be pirated, either convenience or experience. As an example, he cited the popularity of iTunes which has sold billions of dollars of music when the music is available for free on the net, albeit for a lot more work.

These were just some of the highlights from the conference and speakers who I thought were particularly interesting. On a side note, I ended up taking these notes on my trusty but aging Blackberry Pearl and emailing them to myself and buying more than 3 books while listening to the speakers (damn you Amazon 1-click purchasing).

A friend and I are working on a next-gen product for the wireless presentation space and I found this behavior striking whereby interactions with the audience happen not just through verbal feedback but through the blogging of speeches, visits to the speaker’s websites and purchases of books etc, all while still listening to them speak. We’ll need to see how we can incorporate some of these capabilities within our product.

Heading to the Institute of Design’s Strategy Conference

I’m finishing my breakfast as I write, heading over to catch my school, the Institute of Design’s annual Strategy Conference. We have a great line up this year and I’m especially interested to hear what Bill Buxton has to say about Sketching User Experience. There’s a short interview with him which you can read here.

Other speakers who seem promising are Claudia Kotchka, EX-VP of Design and Innovation at P&G who has attended our conference in prior years as well. I say ex vp of design since Bruce Nussbaum reported this morning that Claudia is leaving P&G. I’m as surprised as Bruce is but more curious as to where she’s headed next. Talent like that usually can spot trends and opportunities ahead of others.
Speaking of Bruce Nussbaum, he doesn’t know it but he’s one of the reasons why I’m at the Institute of Design. It was his articles on Innovation and the Institute of Design that led me to explore further after which I decided to leave my job in Boston and move to Chicago for school. Thanks Bruce and if I get to see you in person at this conference, I’ll thank you in person.

Well, it’s about that time so I must head off. Thankfully, the MCA is 4 blocks away and I’ll keep you all posted on the conference.