Design Study Tour – Day 3

The day began with a long line at Starbucks. I don't know why there were so many people there this morning.

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The first stop was Stanford d.school. Charlotte Burgess-Auburn gave us a tour. I was most interested in how their teaching model works with the projects and the way these projects were funded. It was very interesting to see how different courses are organized around particular projects that they brought in. We were able to see students in "Extreme Mobility" class making studio presentations. Some pictures here.

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After that, we moved to IDEO Palo Alto Office. There Peter Coughlan, partner and the transformation practice lead, hosted us for three hours, giving us tour and a lecture. Students saw the open and playful space, lots of stories of prior projects, post-it notes boards, and many prototypes. Peter gave a presentation on 5 principles for organization change for innovations.

  1. Find out what people care about and start there.
  2. Design the offer first, then organize yourself to deliver it.
  3. Engage everyone you can in envisioning the future.
  4. Start now, start small.
  5. Make change tangible.

Again, we can see the power of tangible prototype-driven approach here. One thing that is quite evident here is how Peter and his group sees that the organization design (internally) needs to reflect what they offer (externally). This is the point that I have been emphasizing in my teaching and writing and Peter had a very nice framework to codify it. He also mentioned about 13 or so infrastructure elements that will make the change stick in organizations.

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One particularly interesting story was the use of actual bottles to show how companies can contribute the sustainability by simply considering different bottling options. In order to make that point clear, an IDEO designer put together a package with several different bottles as shown below.

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Our last stop was the first architectural firm of our tour. We visited the studio of Stanley Saitowitz. Instead of Mr. Saitowitz, a young architect Allen gave us a very frank and revealing presentation. He talked about how his studio approach to a design problem, the tools they use and the way they interact with clients, contractors and community. He showed several examples from their recent projects. It was interesting to note that they stopped building 3D physical models and almost exclusively rely on 2D CAD drawing for their design. They initial design process is very quick — often around half a day. He talked about how they struggle with different ideas about design concepts, materials, and cost. One really interesting example (shown below) is a restaurant called, "Conduit", and the place was literally designed with conduit pipes. They saw conduit pipes exposed and decided to add even more pipes and completed their design. It was an interesting way of getting inspired for a design concept.

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