Thoughts on “Design Management: Towards a New Era of Innovation”
The 2011 Tsinghua-DMI International Design Management Symposium was created to explore “a new era of innovation”, and I would say it truly demonstrated a new era is upon us. The role of design management in innovation is growing world wide, and there are thought leaders emerging in mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea and throughout south Asia. I say this with a note of envy, because the rate of change I see in Asia exceeds that of other regions such as the US or Europe, which makes me curious to see what the future may hold. In addition to interesting content and conversations, three points stood out to me at this symposium; the collaboration of educators and practice, the sophistication of content, and the rate of adoption.
Collaboration of educators and practitioners
The Symposium drew over 300 attendees from 18 countries, and we published 88 papers and 66 paper sessions, representing 55 universities. It was a powerful three days of stimulating conversations with educators and practitioners alike. In fact, on the second day the conference ran two hours longer than scheduled, because the dialog with speakers and audience was so interesting we just decided to let it continue. There was a sense of learning from one another, discussing alternatives, and seeking interesting ways forward.
It seemed the connection and respect between academia and practice was extremely close at this conference. Perhaps there are closer collaborations between education and industry in Asia, which seems to be more difficult in the west. For example, professor LEE Kun Pyo from KAIST University is now the corporate vice president of design at LG Electronics; it seems that education and industry are working very closely to advance success by design. In Asia there seems to be more latitude, which I find fascinating.
Sophistication of the content
I was also impressed by the quality of content presented. There was interesting research presented and the general sessions were excellent. This was due in part to our partner, Tsinghua University in Beijing, an outstanding institution. Over the two days of general sessions we had just 13 sessions, but each was an hour long, followed by lengthy panel discussions that allowed each speaker time to explore their topic thoroughly and then discuss it with other speakers and audience.
Rate of adoption
The third point that I found interesting is the rapid rate of adoption of design management methods and principles in the region. There is a tremendous source of new information about design management. It is evident that seeds that DMI has planted in recent years with leading institutions such as Tsinghua University in China, KAIST University and KIDP in Korea, and the Hong Kong Design Center are now bearing fruit.
Good design, design management and design methods do make a difference, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity in helping DMI extend its role as a global catalyst of information, change and connections.