The Big Rethink: Part 2

This was written while traveling in to Day 2 of the conference. Having just read an article on sleep and memory it was fun to see what stuck in mind in since writing about it traveling back on from Day 1.

Will Hutton, of the Work Foundation, getting impassioned about the relatives merits of China v Korea on where new business models and innovative ideas would generate. He had an impressive array of facts and figures at his disposal to back up his views that South Korea is the place to watch. He also put forward a concept of "manu-services – manufacturing companies offering both services and products." See the Work Foundation's report Manufacturing and the Knowledge Economy on this topic.

Ideo's Paul Bennett putting forward their ideas on the four pillars of a new business model. Purpose, talent, something I don't remember and money. The focus throughout Ideo's presentation on money was a jarring note – no mention from them of sustainability, ethics, climate change, social concerns, triple bottom line, and so on that informed most of the other presentations, that combined with presentations of distinctly uninnovative business models made this segment much less than expected.

Jeff Denby, referred to by others, as 'the underwear guy' from PACT telling us about their designer, Yves Bihar, who says:

"Designs bring stories to life, stories bring designs to life, life brings design to stories" – a colorful set of images to work with when designing organizations (or anything else).

Jeff also offered some principles of design:

• Design by thematic, e.g guilt free luxury. (Pact's underwear is high quality and price but ethically sourced and produced). This principle was also illustrated in M&S's hook-up with Oxfam that another speaker referred to.
• Invite consumer participation in the design and sales process. (His customers submit photos of themselves wearing the underwear, showing to what uses they put the cotton bags in which the knickers come)
• Remember that consumers trust consumers – not suppliers – listen to what they are saying.

The statement attributed to Ravi Sawhney and Deepa Pralahad that "customer choices are made by balancing the need for evolution with the force of habit" which was reported in a Business Week article The Role of Design in Business (February 1 2010)

Hugo Spowers, from Riversimple telling us, (in direct contradiction to Ideo's views) that "a sustainable industrial society is NOT based on the sale of product" and that "cultural attitudes change quickly". I thought this latter point was interesting. He was making it in relation to attitudes to vehicles e.g. Hummers, once cultural icons, are now viewed as beyond the pale in terms of what they represent. I'm not sure that is a "cultural attitude" more a change of mind on a specific item. Powered vehicles are still considered an absolute necessity by most people. One of the partners in Riversimple – Steve Evans – made the point (accurately in my view) that "future business models need to be designed as part of a deliberate design activity."

Nick Jankel from wecreate suggested that we are in an era of 'frugal engineering that comes as a response to resource scarcity', and need to innovate and design businesses from that perspective.

Roberto Verganti talked about the meaning that people attach to banks or to phone companies. Banks being associated with money, by changing the meaning one can change the company. On this he gave the example of safaricom http://www.safaricom.co.ke/ a telecoms company in Kenya that is now additionally a banking company.

Other company names that came up in the course of the day for various forms of innovation/disruption or new business model:
Muji's (retailer) philosophy of 'no brand quality goods'
Riverford Organic's (home delivery of seasonal fruit, and veg) celebration with their customers of a mystery box of seasonal fruit and veg.
Monocle (a global briefing covering international affairs, business, culture and design)
Zappos (online retailer) for their collaborative business culture
Ikea (home furnishings) for their bridging of national cultures through the concepts of 'hom'

Additionally Jonathan Zittrain's blog came up. He is author of "The future of the internet and how to stop it", Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Thinking back through the presentations I noticed that although all (bar one) had PowerPoint slides the majority of these were pictures only – few bulleted list of words to be seen. (Ideo was the exception here, but the words were writ large so there weren't many on each slide). Edward Tufte may be getting somewhere.

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