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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.

Scintilla delivers Strategic Design lecture at UTS

Scintilla delivers Strategic Design lecture at UTS May 2016

During May Scintilla was asked to deliver a lecture to Integrated Product Design students at the University of Technology Sydney on the topic of Strategic Design.

Presented to second year students the lecture provided an introduction to the overarching concept that design is not just about product but may be used in a more strategic way. Using design strategically can extract greater value and therefore attend to the needs and experiences of all stakeholders and in particular the end user.

During the lecture Scintilla described the changing nature of the world and in particular how problems have become more complex and multi-disciplinary and how designers are in a key position to act as synthesisers. Scintilla introduced the concept that design has the capability to lead as it is transformative – designers have the skills to synthesis information, they look at problems from multiple perspectives, they have the ability to understand multiple disciplines and they are comfortable with working with the unknown.

Scintilla then introduced the concept of strategy and how strategy may be developed across an organisation in order to create value. The concept of applying design at a business (strategic) level, a process level and product level and showing how these levels interact in order to achieve an organisation that delivers a consistent message and experience for internal and external stakeholders.

A number of case studies in the areas of business strategy, process and product, based on the work of Scintilla, were discussed in order to highlight the application of theory and practice.

Scintilla believes that design today is much more than just delivering a product and that the designers of tomorrow have many more opportunities than just product design.

Scintilla attends Milano Design Week

Scintilla attends Milano Design Week – April 2016

Dorte recently attended the Milano Design Week which included the Salone del Mobile (55th International Furniture Fair), 21st Triennale International Exhibition Milan as well as many satellite exhibitions throughout the city of Milan. While there was the usual array of new product launches, what was more interesting was the active marketing of design philosophies, ways of thinking and approaches to innovation by many major global brands including Toyota, Lexus and Citizen watches. Toyota presented a wooden concept car that asked the audience to consider the car not as a commodity, but as an heirloom piece that is handed down from one generation to the next, with each scratch a part of the car’s individual history. Citizen watches explored the relativity of time as experienced by people of different ages, on different planets within our solar system and so on, all bounded by a galaxy of watch mechanisms (and a display of their products through time).

Also of interest were the many satellite exhibitions hosted in various design districts across the city that presented the works of emerging designers as well as new innovations and applications of materials, finishes and manufacturing processes. The Italian furniture design house Kartell, focused on promoting their partnerships with leading design professionals and their continued innovation in plastics manufacturing technology in order to realise many of their designs. The recently launched Piuma chair designed by Piero Lissoni weighs only 2.2kg and is only 2mm thick. Kartell took 3 years to realise the design due to the application of carbon fiber plastics molding technology formerly only used in the automotive and aeronautical industries.

Attending international events such as Milano Design Week, enables Scintilla to keep abreast of global design trends and innovations in materials and manufacturing. We look forward to applying our learnings when next working with our clients to better realise their vision


Doing things differently

Doing things differentlyMarch 2016

Dorte was one of 19 female graduates interviewed by Cathy Lockhart, lecturer in Design at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), as part of her PhD thesis: Where are the women? Women industrial designers from university to workplace. Cathy was recently interviewed by the International Council of Societies in Industrial design (ICSID) about her PhD research findings. Cathy found that while women designers were not achieving the public recognition of their male counterparts through formal design award programs, they were still out there practicing design.

"Millennials are having to be more entrepreneurial, and the women are designing, but they're actually doing it for themselves. So they might work for someone else for a couple of years and then they're setting up their own businesses. They're doing things differently, and it's just not in that peer-reviewed environment. It doesn't get that public recognition in the same way, and doesn't necessarily have the backing of a design awards, and the media coverage that goes with it," Cathy explains.

As part of her research into women industrial designers, Cathy also curated an exhibition in 2014 entitled “Where are the Women?”. Dorte was invited to participate in the exhibition and a sample of Dorte’s work is included in the article. To read the full article, visit: 

Helping new designers grow

Helping new designers growMarch 2016

Having been involved in the design industry for many years, we believe in giving back to our industry to help nurture better designers for the future. Both Ian and Dorte have been invited by UTS to tutor and mentor students in the areas of Research Methods in Integrated Product Design and User-Centered Design. We will be guiding students through real world projects and showing them how to apply design research and user-centered design principles to develop appropriate designed solutions and outcomes. We look forward to working with the students throughout the coming semester.

Scintilla Expands core capabilities

Scintilla Expands core capabilities February 2016

To enable our clients to better visualise product opportunities and strategically communicate with their customers, we have invested in Keyshot rendering and animation software. This enables Scintilla to take 3D CAD models developed in our Solidworks and Creo 3D modelling platforms to produce photo-realistic product images, in-situ product renders and product animations. To find out how we can help you visualise and communicate your product opportunities, contact us at