Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
Track 4 Session 5
Wednesday, 05/Aug/2020:
3:30pm - 3:55pm

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Designing Beyond Innovation Theater -- Establishing Best-Practice Models for Internalizing Innovation within Large Organizations

Alex Michael Severin, Vivek Rao

University of California, Haas School of Business, United States of America

Large companies desire in-house innovation capabilities, with a specific interest in innovation methods such as design thinking, design sprints, and lean startup approaches. However, few organizations have operationalized design innovation to drive business value. This work examines the contradiction that many companies’ commitment to design innovation capability often results in a failure to operationalize these capabilities into the broader organization and culture. We interview 14 industry innovation executives from diverse sectors who have found success, failure, and mixed results launching design and innovation teams within organizations, uncovering a narrative of tensions that exists when first investing in and operationalizing design and innovation internally, from mandates to metrics, to structures, teaming, and expectations setting. We detail insights, tactics, and best practices that have proven uniquely successful in proactively solving for these known tensions. This work extends on previous literature describing design innovation in companies from a process perspective to include the unique challenges of founding and launching a design-driven innovation team in a large firm. Our findings contribute to the active dialogue on internal innovation activities and the challenge of implementing design-driven innovation methods, while providing best practices to business leaders encountering these challenges in their portfolio of responsibility.

Design(er) Leadership in Large Corporations

José Manuel Fernandes dos Santos1,2, Sebastian FIXSON3, Carlos ROSA1,2

1IADE, Universidade Europeia, Lisboa, Portugal; 2UNIDCOM/IADE – Unidade de Investigação em Design e Comunicação, Lisboa, Portugal; 3Babson College, USA

While there are still those that believe the chief Design officer is a growing phenomenon, and respected companies like McKinsey have stepped into the arena and provided very important data and insights attesting the importance of Design, evidence seems to suggest that the effect of globalization and trade disputes have made traditional Design led companies like Apple focus strongly on cost cutting, while Jonathan Ive decides to leave the company and pursue his own Design ways with LoveFrom.

When the researcher started this journey, the question he posed was “Why aren’t there more Designers in executive positions in the top 50 Fortune 500 corporations?”, and according to publicly available data in 2017 there were 4 formally educated Designers (Design, art, architecture) in the top 50 Fortune 500 (US) reporting to the CEO, now there are 3. Are we progressing towards Design(er) leadership in large corporations, or perhaps regressing? Can we say that the decade of 2010 -20 that saw some progress in this domain will be matched by a new decade of more Designer leadership, or has Design been so deeply engrained in corporations through successful Design thinking initiatives like with IBM, that Design will be in the hands of everyone and Design leadership in the hands of traditional leaders in different domains, not with Designers.

This paper reports on the progress of research on a doctoral thesis started in 2017, it will present the results of various data collection efforts, among them a survey done with large corporations’ Executives, surveys with senior/ mid-career Designers working in large companies, and the result of 1:1 conversations with more than 25 professionals with experience and credible point of view on the topic. These individuals range from active and past Chief Design Officers, to those that recruit and place them in large corporations, to those that are/ were in N-2/3 and therefore not in a traditional executive role, and those that study the phenomena in academia. The paper attempts to connect the data and provide insights on the state of Design(er) leadership in large corporations and begins to shed some light on what the most important underlying factors might be.

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