*Aaron Fry, Parsons School of Design, USA
Rhea Alexander, Parsons School of Design, USA
Jochen Schweitzer, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Mark Randall, Parsons School of Design, USA
Charlotta Windahl, University of Auckland, New Zealand
*contact: frya@newschool.edu

In an article written seventeen years ago, pioneering management theorist Peter Drucker prophetically wrote, “In the next society, the biggest challenge for the large company—especially for the multinational—may be its social legitimacy: its values, its mission, its vision. Increasingly, in the next society’s corporation, top management will, in fact, be the company. Everything else can be outsourced.” (Drucker, 2001). Drucker spoke eloquently about knowledge economies but he did not predict the current rise of design-driven business innovation or foresee its inroads into large, complex organizations and sectors, from banking, finance and insurance to healthcare and telecommunications.

Levitt, Drucker et al. maintain that ideas are plentiful whereas it is actionable solutions that are truly impactful. Design-driven business innovation is associated with the disruptive mindset of the start-up, consultancies and agencies or with the Chief Design Officer (CDO) role. However, as design innovation teams move in-house, into the aforementioned large industry sectors, how are we training our design-business graduates to understand and operate innovatively within the complex systems (e.g., outsourced value and supply chains) which constitute these organizations? Does Design-driven business innovation remain something

of a marginal undertaking in these sectors? Is its promise actually achieving impact?

The “integrating within complex systems” panel is devoted to investigating design-driven innovation and innovation education applied to problems of integration, implementation and execution in organizations large and small. Panelists may address how graduates shift from an entrepreneurial to an “intrapreneurial” mindsets or perhaps explore the problems and possibilities of how today’s design innovators work with complexity—for example balancing traditional (legacy) systems with new modes of coordination and organization—toward developing better ways of creating sustainable value.

Some key questions:

  • How might today’s design-driven innovators integrate systemically complex relationships to create new products, experiences and systems across sectors?
  • How might creative business models more effectively engage regulatory, political, ethical and strategic consequences of disruption (e.g., as with Uber, Lime, Airbnb etc. in cities)?
  • How might design-driven innovators creatively engage with how to do business in systemically and contextually challenging conditions (e.g. within corrupt political cultures within ethically-challenged supply chains)?

Indicative References

Bock, A., Opsahl, T., George, G. and Gann, D. 2012. “The Effects of Culture and Structure on Strategic Flexibility during Business Model Innovation” Journal of Management Studies.

Accessed 09/14/2018, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2011.01030.x.

Christensen, K. and Conklin, J. 2013. “Building a Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems.” In Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine edited by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen, p. 50-66. Toronto: Rotman-UTP Publishing.

Drucker, P. 2001. “Will the corporation survive? Yes, but not as we know it” The Economist, print edition, special report, Nov 1.

Levitt, Theodore. 2002. “Creativity is Not Enough” Harvard Business Review, August 2002. Accessed 09/14/2018, https://hbr.org/2002/08/creativity-is-not-enough.
Meadows, D. Wright, D. 2008. ”Thinking in Systems.” Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction, VT.

Martin, Roger. 2013. “The Design of Business – Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.” In Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine edited by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen, 14-18. Toronto: Rotman-UTP Publishing.

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