Design Innovation Today: A Change Agenda

LDN.0.01, Loughborough University London


Professor Mikko Koria, the Director for the Institute for Design Innovation will be delivering the second inaugural lecture at the London campus in May.

Humanity has designed ever since the very first day it picked up a stick and shaped it into a tool. From the early flint stones to primitive shelter, agricultural implements to storage spaces, and meeting places to halls of adoration, people have been shaping their environment and the resources at their disposal. Starting from simple utilitarian pieces, the design of (mainly) useful products has had a (again mainly) positive impact on well-being, wealth and the society at large. Over time, creating progressively more sophisticated and complex product service systems for our artificial world has also changed how we act, communicate and think.

Design today is about new products, services and operational models. It has created preferred and desirable solutions and value on multiple levels for users, organisations, the ecosystem and society at large. It has linked human creativity to new, useful and diffusible ideas, enabling innovation and potential well-being for many. To date, design has been very successful in creating meaning for users and consumers, enabling businesses and organisations to operate, communicate and do well, and making our services work better. That said, there is also a darker side of incessant negative change, intended or not, as political and economic actors extract asymmetric rent and benefits through the opaque and unjust (also designed) systems of the artificial world. The forces at play are not always benevolent, and human activity is slowly but surely leading us down the path of significant ecological harm and potential deterioration of global wellbeing.

When we examine the multiple global (and wicked) challenges facing us in the future, a very special role for design emerges through its potential to facilitate positive change. We argue that applying designerly thinking, approaches, and tools to complex change processes can make them more understandable and thus manageable, improving both the process itself and the outcomes. As noted before, design helps to create the future, and thus to see, acknowledge and implement the changes needed to get there.  Whether we are talking about ecosystem-wide transitions from current models of production to circular ones, or internal-to-organisation change management towards improved work practices to serve clients better, or moving towards collaborative team practices, we can use design to enable real, meaningful change. This is the design innovation that changes current products, services and operational models into future ones that create wide value for all. And this is also the key agenda for the enterprise and social innovation research and engagement activities of the Institute for Design Innovation. After the lecture there will be time to network and discuss the event.

About Professor Mikko Koria

Professor Mikko Koria is a Professor of Design Innovation and the Director of the Institute for Design Innovation. After design, architecture and business studies in Brazil, Finland and the UK, Mikko’s research has focused on interdisciplinary learning, extreme projects and design business innovation. To find out more about Professor Mikko Koria, visit his profile.

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