Design . . . is a Smart Investment

September 21, 2007

Those savvy folks at Fast Company have a very exciting October issue. The online articles and resources are rich with the nuanaces and controversies around Design.  And one lovely insight is that investing in it leads to financial returns that are tangible.The Design Dividend

Having just had a conversation with a CEO who bemoaned that his CFO wanted to go from AI project concepts into full blown project management, this quote made me want to send him an urgent email:

The real challenge  . . . is infusing design thinking throughout a large organization. “It’s not the senior executives–most of them get it,” Lawrence says. “It’s the middle management, which is charged with implementing the company’s strategy, that wants everything proven to them.”

Design is now an acknowledged bottom line advantage. Yippee!


Soundbytes at the Third International AI Conference

September 20, 2007

Design resonated in many of the conversation and breakout sessions that I attended this year. Charlotte Dalsgaard in Denmark worked with Christian Binau Nielson to use AI for  Imaginative product design  for Oticon.  Dave Sherman and John Whalen shared their work with Walmart ,”Strength based  Organizational Change: A Walmart Case Study. Lee Scott  is engaging stakeholders and strength based change in his quest to make Walmart an environmentally sustainable company. You can view parts of  “Sustainability ”  a DVD that was used at . 

 Peter Coughlin with IDEO provide a playful keynote session in rapid  product protyping.

A designer at lunch was sharing her work with using AI to design a Cancer Wellness Center and garden.

It was wonderful to see artist, engineers, designers, R&D and marketing teams embracing AI as a design methodology.

BAWB: Imagining . . . and How to Get There

October 23, 2006

How you phrase the question will depend on where globalization goes. How will we get there is keynote speaker, CK Pralahad’s, focus.

There is evidence that poverty leads to ecological damage. Conflict and poverty are related. Poverty is about dignity. 3 to 5 billion people are underserved by the organized sector. We need to be innovative and entrepreneurial. The public sector has made significant effort within the notion of “one solution”. Civil socieity looks for social justice. Philanthropy has its own role. Business is not going to do it alone where others have failed. Giving up our idealogical stances is what will bring all of these sectors together.cell phones

Everyone should have the benefits of the global economy: be able to enjoy world class (high standards of quality) products (example, McDonalds) and services, and create platforms of opportunity for every person as a consumer and as a producer to chose the products they want and have the finances to participate as a micro-producer.

He focuses on 4 industries to show how this will happen :

Connectivity – changes the asymmetry. 3-5 billion people will be connected by PCs or cell phones. See the pictures of a young man taking vegetable orders, another selling family crafts, a tire repairman who gets customer calls. This is the power of information.

Access to money – credit, savings, micro-insurance. At the bottom of the pyramind 20 – 50x. Coin-operated, direct distribtution commerce (shampoo, aspirin, etc.) is possible. becoming locally responsive and use global standards at the same time will lead us to researchable questions about democratizing commerce. Consumption at the bottom of the pyramid leads to livelihood enhancement.
Energy – becoming locally responsive
Good health care – The delivery system in India is an example he uses since there are problems which we all understand. First, the market is large – enormous numbers of diabetes patients. Travel is needed to get medical attention so the cost of care is time and money intensive. The motivation for innovation is large volume so solutions must be scalable. Distribution must allow for local access.
Price minus profit must address the challenge cost (what the consumer can afford). He asks the audience to chose a price point. In the US cataract surgery costs $3000. The target price for cell phones in India is the cheapest per minute in the world.

The innovation sandbox asks us to think about new pricing models. Looking at prosthetics, Jaipur Foot video shows the creation of a new limb for an Indian man at the cost of $25 as compared to $12,000 for a similar item in the US. The approach is different in India for marketing, patient acquisition, pricing. But the quality of the healthcare products and services are world class. There is a method for us to use to participate in this market.leg-1

Organizing people for economic benefit is shown through the example of a milk cooperative. 6.4 million kg per day is produced daily by these women. They are co-owners.

Additional examples highlight, the marketplace ecosystem at the micro-level and its relationships with regional and global capacity building. There are 630 thousand self-help groups organized at multiple levels (village and district). Purchasing power for equipment, negotiating services, collaboration at the level needed provides bottom-up decision making and the need for new value propositions from providers. This is a velcro model. It comes together as needed.

Our forgetting curve is larger than the learning curve of those in the emerging markets. Bringing together scholarship and research, passion, humility are the requirement.

How will we answer the question: “Do these children deserve our attention?”

BAWB: Much Is At Stake

October 23, 2006

David Cooperrider kicks off the conference this largest world-wide event of its kind. Over 1000 people in total are participating in person and online. He reminds us that the work of BAWB is important because of what is at stake for socieity.

David recalls what Peter Drucker said to him just a year ago when he shared the BAWB concept:

1. management is a matter of world affairs

2. every pressing social and global issue of our time is a business opportunity

3. this is the time for management research and practice to come together for world benefit

David tells us that questions are many, the tools and implications are evolving . . . What is the “sweet spot” of sustainable value? What happens to those (schools, businesses) who don’t see it?

The inspiration for this conference came from the 2004 United Nations Global Compact. David shares a video clip featuring Kofi Anaan and participants of that event sharing their views of the compelling need for common interests among buiness, government and NGOs to drive new models.

Georg Kell, Executive Head, UN Global Compact conveys Kofi Anaan’s greetings. The UN is calling for institutional innovation and reform. The Global Compact has already made global markets more sustainable. The academic community can provide the underpinnings for change from research, can teach, can advance the agenda for this important issue.

BAWB: Getting Ready for Virtual Forum

October 23, 2006

With just minutes to the start time for the conference, Jonathan Finkelstein and Nadya Zhexembayeva greet over 50 virtual participants to the Live Auditorium for an overview of the technology. The features of Breeze and the Learning Times community site are rich and give lots of options for viewing the conference, participating with one another and getting the papers and presentations. In one minute the opening plenary will begin.


BAWB: Business & Management Address Triple Bottom Line

October 22, 2006


Starting on Monday, I will be focusing my attention on Case Western Reserve University and the BAWB Global Forum. In a series of postings, I will consider the goings on of that inspiring gathering. The organizers tell us:

Businesses increasingly realize that corporate citizenship is not a peripheral activity but rather a core element of their business strategy. Global corporate citizenship is the future of business. Business leaders and scholars who attend this Forum are not people who need to be sold on the business case. Many, however, have more questions than answers. They want to learn how corporate citizenship can be leveraged strategically in their business.

Therefore the Forum will seek to (1) answer some of those questions and (2) more importantly create learning laboratories and action groups around the questions so that follow-up work after the Forum can be done to continuously answer those questions. The main reason scholars and business practitioners are coming together in this unique Forum is to combine the strengths of each sector to create a living, learning action network. BAWB Forum Overview

Bringing together multiple focal points came into business use with Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard. Rather than just look at the traditional bottom line, they charged companies with finding a more holistic measure of strategic business success — by adding aspects such as customer satisfaction, learning, technology, and employee performance to the metrics. In what has become know as the Triple Bottom Line, corporate responsibility extends to “People, Planet, Profit”. And so David Cooperrider has brought together his own Case Weatherhead School of Management, The Academy of Management, and The United Nations Global Compact to lead this Global Forum.

You can register for and participate in the October 23 – 25 BAWB Virtual Forum. And stay tuned here as I share my birds-eye view of the online proceedings.