Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MBA Design Leadership elective - week 8 - icons, standards, quality and failture

In the final week of our MBA elective in Design Leadership, we drew on recent public and media discussions in response to the London 2012 Olympics brand and logo as a way to discuss success and failure in design. In our conversation we reviewed a range of publicly available resources as data - the London organizing committee's aims for the Olympics, the film that communicates the vision behind the brand, news reports about the problems experienced by viewers from the 2012 advertisements which appeared to trigger epilepsy, the campaign to redesign the logo and the legacy from previous Olympic brands and their graphic identities. For managers, key issues are how to manage the design process to meet the organization's goals, and how to evaluate design effectiveness.

In the second part of the class, we heard from guest speaker Chris Thomason from PDD, a leading independent design company with offices in London. Unlike many other consultancies, PDD offers "concept to cash" consultancy, including expertise in advising clients on manufacturing in China, for example, and in house skills and technology to test prototypes against spec. Their team of 60 people includes not that many "designers" - rather they offer a range of skills and resources including in research, ergnonomics, prototyping, engineering, and psychology. For Chris, a key question for clients was whether they want something similar or something totally different. Failures include failures of timing, of execution and killing off concepts too early. His claim - "We design profit streams for companies" - left the audience with the question about what approaches, methods and skills managers need to deliver on the goals of strategy if they want to explore new areas. Is an understanding of design and design management essential for innovation?

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