Design Study Tour – Day 2

Today, we visited SAP Design Services Team. We start the day by me giving a talk on my work on organization designing. The talk was a bit rough as I had to deal with audience in Germany and the session started about 30 minutes later than scheduled. At any rate, I hope I conveyed the gist of what I wanted to say. My talk focused on how the radical digitization and emergence of knowledge economy creates the demand for continuing innovations in organizations and how this creates an identity problem in organizations. I further talked about how seeing organization design as a verb, as opposed a noun, helps organizations address this challenge. The presentation slides are here.

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After my talk, student made presentations at SAP design center, in front of the Design Services Team. The first team focused on people's lunch behaviors. They studied professionals and students in terms of how they choose they lunch selections everyday.

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The second team focused on the students use of money. They interviewed several students, which are available on their blog. They identified sources, modes of payment, control methods, spending, and experiences. Then they grouped people based on the level of involvements in money management and the spending (overspending vs. no-overspending). This led to many interesting questions and discussions about financial matters for the students.

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The last team focused on the daily decisions on the mode transportation. They also have their own blog which is used to document the stories from the interviews. The interviews were based on daily everyday life experiences. They also have a Flickr site with the pictures that they took. They actually reconstructed their analysis process live in front of the audience.

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The members of SAP Design Service Team reacted to the presentations. They provided extremely valuable comments and feedback.

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The last item on our morning agenda was the talk by Matthew Holloway, VP of Design Service Team at SAP. He talked about how Design Service Team was set up and what it is doing within SAP applying design thinking principles. It was such a great presentation. He talked about how their team is trying to treat many of their problems through prototypes and visualization to change the way the company approach to the problems. He calls it "tangible strategy", which he defines as the articulation of strategy with prototypes. One of the idea that he mentioned was the important role that design plays in organization is to bring predictability.

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Below is a video clip of his talk at IIT's Design Conference in 2007.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=3781576816077810671&hl=en
We had a wonderful lunch at their cafeteria. The ice cream was very nice. Before we left the building, we also had a brief tour of their working environments.
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In the afternoon, we visited Neutron — a brand design and strategy firm. They are known for their books — Brand Gap and ZaG.

They emphasize the notion that the brand needs to be built from inside-out. So, they argue that brand building is culture change. They emphasize the importance of destabilizing the established business vocabularies. Design thinking is, according to them, a gut level reactions, which triggered a long conversation about the nature of design thinking and the meaning of rigor. Overall, it was a good visit.

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