Design/Strategy Conf. 2011: In Their Own Words

A few weeks back I attended the Design/Strategy conference, put on by the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. Overall it was a solid lineup. A quirky and broad range of speakers, discussing the cross-sections of design, strategy and business. Rather than try to sum it up myself, below are some of the more memorable and inspirational quotes I captured from the two-day affair. Read and absorb. Read and absorb.

(Photo not of the actual conference. But it looked similar, I promise.)

“Design research:  how to know
Design thinking:  what to do
Design skills:  how to do it
Design Awareness:  how to choose”  – Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

“All of our systems that work have been designed and proven for a stable world. Now the world is more dynamic and shifting. The frame is constantly changing… The amount of relearning that each of us have to do today is stunning — the half-life of many skills are 5 years…  Learning is a play between context and content: How do I make this strange new idea familiar?… Now, increasingly, we cultivate, we don’t teach.”  “Let me alter the music of a film and I can alter not only its meaning but also what you can actually see.”  -John Seely Brown, visiting scholar and adviser to the Provost at University of Southern California   

“Form is disappearing. Look at all the mobile phones, they look similar. TVs are the same way. The focus has shifted to the UI.”  -Kun-Pyo Lee, head of the Corporate Design Center and EVP at LG Electronics in Seoul, Korea

“Don’t despair, once the Flintstones understood that the pelicans could mix cement, then they understood innovation.”  “Complexity is the number of independent variables behaving independently in a predictable way.  And design is a special vitamin, which taken daily helps with complexity.”  -Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Steelcase, Inc.

“Your best ideas are the worst. Your actual prototypes will make you feel like that… In tech, know your first release is not a final product, just a hi-fi prototype.”  “You have a brilliant idea every day. If there’s no process to channel those ideas, you have a problem.” – Guillermo Krovblit, co-founder of Peapod Labs

“3-D printers mark the beginning of a change where goods aren’t so scarce, its the design of the goods that are.”  “[These days] built to last means built to change.” – told to him by ‘a writer’  “We are trending away from hoarding towards sharing.”  – Chris Meyer, founder of Monitor Talent, entrepreneur, executive, consultant, author, and leader of a think tank

The conference's home: the incredible Spertus institute in Chi-town.

“What we need to teach is passion with purpose.  Our school system is missing this… One of the best ways of learning is to own the learning.”  -Neeru Khosia, co-founder and executive director of CK-12 Foundation

“In the future it will not be important where product is produced. What will be important is who are the customers and where they are.” “Of 6.3 million college graduations in 2010 in China, 136,900 were from the design field. 9630 grads were from 1125 industrial design programs.” -Jun Cai, a leading design educator and researcher in China

“Design of course is this wondrous, rich, ambiguous, hard-to-figure-out kind of thing… Design happens at the intersection of possibilities, constraints and uncertainties.”  –Jeanne Liedtka, professor of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia

“The more value we create [for the 4 billion people in poverty] at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’/our customers, the more we create for ourselves. We can’t just think about building ventures, we have to think about the ecosystem around these things.”  –Ted London, research fellow at the William Davidson Institute & faculty member of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

“If your ambition is not much higher than your resources, you will not succeed.”  (referring to entrepreneurs in poverty in India)  “Success [in design & business] rests on insights, a blend of logic of observation. Not just intuition.”  – Jamshyd Godrej, chairman of the board of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company

“There are emerging trends from our speakers. 1) The problems are tougher than every before. 2) Analysis and Synthesis are fusing.” “Analysis is what you should’ve done beforehand had you known what you know last year.”  – Larry Keeley, design strategist and president and co-founder of Doblin Inc.


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