Author Archive

The Facts

New Scintilla Fact Sheet –  March 2017

For those of you who would like to know a little more about our capabilities we've developed a short fact sheet which you can download here. Print a copy and start a discussion in your company about how Scintilla might be able to work with you.


In search of inspiration

Images to inspireFebruary 2017

We are starting a new internal project here at Scintilla that we are keeping under wraps for the moment. But we thought we would share with you some of our creative process. To help get our creative juices flowing we took a little field trip to do some design research. Here are some of the photos we took. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do! Stay tuned for more on this project.

Mastering Design Strategy!

Mastering the latest thinking in the field of Design and StrategyJanuary 2017

Ian has just begun a postgraduate course in Design Strategy. The course, run by RMIT University in Melbourne, will be credited as part of the post graduate degree of Master of Design Futures.

The aim of the course is to explore how designers work with corporate, social and public sectors. Within the course students will investigate and apply tools, methods and processes to help align design practices with new movements in organisational strategy.

The course will examine how design contributes to the envisioning, communication, execution and innovation of design and organisational strategy. Ian looks forward to sharing new insights and applying the latest thinking in the field of design and strategy with our partners and the broader Scintilla community. For further information, stay tuned to our blog and news pages or contact us at

CSIRO – AIP Industry Day

csiro-aip-logoCSIRO –  AIP Industry DayDecember 2016

For many years now the CSIRO in association with the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) hold an annual industry day mid-November. The day, which is run as a series of presentations by leading industry figures and includes short tours of the CSIRO, always presents something of interest. The theme of the day varies from year to year and in the past themes have included Advances in Aviation and Aerospace, Medical Device Development, Utilising Design and Development Processes, Advanced Materials and Additive Manufacturing Technologies to name just a few. Scintilla director, Ian Johnson, is a regular attendee at the industry day and believes that as designers involved in the creation of innovation it is important to have exposure to as many industry perspectives as possible. This allows broader and more considered thinking which is applied to our client’s endeavours.

The theme of the 2016 Industry day was Exploring the Lifecycle of Tech Startups. With over 250 attendees, the day, which was run by the ever capable Dr Scott Martin GAICD FAIP, explored a number of tech startups associated with the CSIRO’s collaboration hub, as well contributions from external companies, consultants and industry advisors.

We heard about the technical and commercial challenges from speakers who are developing new technology startups involved in the early stage concept to established companies who have already developed high tech products to entrepreneurs and technical and innovation consultants. The day provided a number of viewpoints and highlighted the challenges that new companies as well as established ones face.

A key part of the day are the tours of the CSIRO Lindfield site. Here, taken over the BBQ lunch break the tours include the innovation hub, laboratories and other scientific infrastructure.

Overall the day provides an opportunity to meet people who are at the cutting edge of technology, science and share a passion for developing innovation.

We’ve started a blog!

Let's start a conversation November 2016

scintilla_icons_blog_yellowModern times call for modern measures. So we at Scintilla have decided to write a regular blog to inform, create a dialogue and engage with our networks and beyond. There are many talented and knowledgeable people out there and as designers we firmly believe that the more we engage with people, the more we share insights and start a dialogue the more meaningful our work and outcomes will become.

Our topics will vary but will center on the core theme of design. We’re passionate about design, how the power of design transforms lives and how our environment can be transformed through good design. We want to write and solicit feedback from as many people as possible and so we encourage you to comment and add your insights and perspectives – after all this is about sharing and building on what we already have and know.

So stay tuned for our first intro blog due out early November.

DMI Design Management Leadership Conference

Connecting with leading design management professionalsOctober 2016

DMI Design Management Leadership conference Boston 2016

DMI Design Management Leadership conference, Boston, September 25-27, 2016

We recently attended the 41st annual Design Management Leadership conference run by the Design Management Institute in Boston. Attended by over 150 leading practitioners in the field of strategic design and design management, the two and a half day conference covered topic areas such as overcoming cultural barriers to innovation, connecting global teams and organisational design to facilitate design-led thinking.

The conference included seminars as well as a number of interactive sessions where attendees shared experiences and insights from across industry sectors to resolve challenges posted by the interactive session facilitator.

The stand out keynote address was delivered by one of the world’s leading experts on strategy and innovation, Vijay Govindarajan, Coxe Distinguished Professor, Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business. Vijay presented key messages from his recent book “The Three Box Solution”. In his book, Vijay outlines methodologies which allow organisations to manage their energy, time and resources across “3 boxes” or time horizons which will lead to increased innovation and cultural gains across the organisation. The themes and practical examples discussed resonated with not only with ourselves but also with our fellow conference attendees and generated much active discussion. We will provide more information on this book soon, so please stay tuned!

Design as Strategy Forum 2016

Design as a catalyst for change – September 2016

Profession Ian Harper, Senior Advisor, Deloitte Access Economics, Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect and Forum Chair, Maureen Thurston, Good Design Australia at the Design as Strategy Forum 2016

Profession Ian Harper, Senior Advisor, Deloitte Access Economics, Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect and Forum Chair, Maureen Thurston, Good Design Australia at the Design as Strategy Forum 2016

Dorte attended the Design as Strategy Forum 2016 run by Good Design Australia. The event was held at the UTS Business School in the inspirational Frank Gehry designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. The Forum brought together representatives from a broad range of industry sectors including marketing, law, accounting, financial services, insurance, education, government, and design to explore the nexus between commerce, creativity and culture and how design is being used as a catalyst for change.

The Forum presented a diverse and inspiring array of speakers talking about how they are using design thinking to affect change within their organisations. While there were many fantastic talks, two stood out. Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect, spoke about the power of design to unite people around a common theme of place through storytelling, creativity and optimism. Ali reminded us that “vision costs nothing” and that design must “dare to be different” to truly inspire people and ultimately to succeed.

Wing Commander Jerome Reid and Dr Sam Bucolo, Professor of Design Innovation at UTS, spoke about how the Royal Australian Air Force is using design thinking to re-design their procurement process to better respond to an increasingly unpredictable and complex environment. At the core of their process was involving all stakeholders in open conversations up front to share real insights from customers about challenges and issues with existing equipment. Using the core design principles of empathy and placing the user at the centre of the process, they have a developed a clear vision of what is required and where they are headed longer term. As a result, they have drastically reduced lead times, minimised the likelihood of early obsolescence and are in the process of understanding implications for their future workforce capability.

The forum clearly demonstrated that the principles of design thinking are being successfully applied across public and private sectors to drive change and improve business outcomes. When applied strategically, design can reap great rewards – it can co-create visions that inspire and unite people, it can help drive innovation and productivity, and it can deliver significant time and cost savings.

In search of new inspiration…

Exploring Sydney – August 2016

Exploring Sydney: The Goods Line and Frank Gehry designed building; inside the Opera House; Dorte and Ian on the Goods Line.

Clockwise from left: The Goods Line and Frank Gehry designed UTS Business School; inside the Opera House; Dorte and Ian on the Goods Line.

The Scintilla Team recently took a day out to explore our beautiful city, recharge our creative juices and find inspiration in uncommon places. As design professionals we draw inspiration from many different disciplines and create links between seemingly disparate ideas. We believe it is essential for designers to regularly change their perspectives and to have a little fun along the way!

Our explorations included a tour of the Sydney Opera House where we viewed this remarkable building from fresh perspectives and marveled at the attention to detail across every facet of its design. We were surprised to learn that the design we see today was not originally included in the short list of finalists. It took the vision and understanding of a designer, Aero Saarinen, a latecomer to the judging panel, to convince the panel of the value, beauty and grandeur of the design. Thank you Mr Saarinen for your vision, for who could imagine Sydney without the Opera House?

We wandered along the new Goods Line, an urban revitalisation and place making initiative linking Central Station to Darling Harbour. The route led us past the inspirational Frank Gehry designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building of the UTS Business School. The Goods Line is an example of how user-centric design thinking has transformed a disused rail yard into a vibrant and dynamic public space.

Our day’s wanderings proved to be not only inspiring, but also a powerful reminder of the importance of having a vision and putting the user at the centre of design in order to deliver exceptional design outcomes.

“That’s not how we do things here!”

Design and Leadership July 2016

KotterandRathgeber-book-coverAs a design professionals trying to bring about change at the business level within organisations, we are often met with resistance from senior management saying “that’s not how we do things here!”

Renowned change management gurus John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber, have written an insightful and engaging book titled “That’s not how we do things here: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall – and Can Rise Again”. The book explores the distinct roles of management and leadership in the format of a fable about a colony of meerkats living in the Kalahari Desert and their struggles to respond to rapid and unprecedented change in their environment. The book compares the successes and failures of a large, disciplined and well managed clan with a small, informal and inspiring clan and presents ways to get the best of both worlds.

Kotter and Rathgeber confirm what many design professionals already know, and that is the importance of having strong visible leaders. While leaders may come from management, increasingly they may also come from any level within an organisation. The value of leaders lies in their ability to establish a clear directional vision and their ability to inspire, motivate and mobilise other people to see opportunities, overcome barriers and quickly innovative in response to change. In contrast, management is about getting stuff done in the most efficient and effective way possible through planning, organising, executing, measuring and monitoring activities to reliably deliver outcomes. In today’s rapidly changing world, both leadership and management are necessary to achieve sustainable business growth and ongoing success.

Designers often find themselves in leadership roles as our skills and training enable us to envision future possibilities and present them in a way that inspires and excites people. However we need to more effectively combine our leadership and visioning skills with a management framework.

Kotter and Rathgeber suggest that this can and is being achieved within organisations today. This is achieved by establishing a network of groups of passionate volunteers from across business units to address identified opportunities with a level of urgency. These groups develop and implement initiatives that move towards the vision and take advantage of opportunities. There is relentless communication about the initiatives with senior management, within the group of volunteers and with other prospective volunteers to celebrate successes, gain support and maintain momentum. The more “wins” no matter how small, the sooner they come and the better they are celebrated and communicated, the better the overall outcome. Eventually the big wins are embedded within the organisation as new programs or business units once their success has been demonstrated and verified.

We at Scintilla look forward to working with in partnership with our clients in innovative new ways as suggested by thought leaders such as John Kotter to help deliver sustainable business growth and ongoing success.

Tutoring Research Methods and UX Design at UTS

Tutoring at UTSJune 2016

June saw the end of the first semester studies for 2016 at the University of Technology where Ian and Dorte have been busy tutoring. We have really enjoyed working with and mentoring the industrial design students as they tackled real world design briefs and presented their ideas to industry clients. We wish the students all the best for their continuing studies and we look forward to working with them in the future, either as mentors throughout their studies or as colleagues in the design industry.