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If you’re a business or an NGO with an operationin Asia or Latin America, where do you go whenyou want some serious local design thinking? Youmight start by calling my colleague and friend CarlosTeixeira, a Brazilian-born assistant professor at theSchool of Design Strategies, in Parsons, the NewSchool for Design.Carlos has a Ph.D in design from the Institute ofDesign at Illinois Institute of Technology, one of theleading intellectual centers for design thinking in theworld. Carlos heads a research lab called the DesignKnowledge Networks Lab and he’s the only guywho’s tracking the growing network of locally-ownedinnovation consultancies in emerging markets that dostrategy using design thinking. If I were visualizingCarlos’ network, I would begin by putting PatrickWhitney, the extraordinary director of the Institute of
Design, near the center. He created the rst Ph.D in
design program in the U.S. and Patrick’s students arepopulating corporations and innovation consultanciesaround the globe.Carlos knows many of them. They are direct foundersand major players in Mexico’s Insitum and Brazil’sGad’Innovation. Insitum’s founder Luis Amal workedat the Doblin Group and E-Lab before setting up hisown company in Mexico. “Our approach to design hasbeen to position it as a key business ingredient, notselling design per se, but selling it under other names,such as: innovation consulting; market strategy; userunderstanding/market research; strategic planning;forecasting,” says Amal.Design thinking may have begun as a Western
concept but a reverse ow of concepts is just a
matter of time. Next to Patrick I would put Carloshimself because he is speeding the transfer of designthinking expertise by building his own network called
NODES. U.S.-based innovation rms rarely talk to
one another, much less exchange knowledge. Ofcourse, they’re all competing in pretty much thesame space. But I’ve often wondered what brilliancemight emerge from a dinner table that included Tim,Sohrab, Dev, Harry, Davin and Doreen, the headsof IDEO, ZIBA, JUMP, Continuum, Smart and Frog.While that’s not going to happen here in the U.S.,it is already happening in NODES. Carlos says that“NODES is a network of design experts connectingglobal design expertise with local design needs.” Hisgoal is to “disseminate global design best practiceto local business leaders and design professionals.”So far, NODES connects Parsons to Idiom Design andConsulting, a key design thinking-based consultancyin India. Idiom founder Sonia Manchanda is a closefriend of Carlos and recently helped launch SPREADto spread the word of design thinking in her country.Here’s what the Idiom Web site says about it:“SPREAD was hence born as the design outreachprogram of Idiom. Since its induction three yearsago SPREAD has successfully worked with variousinstitutions and business houses conductingworkshops, seminar programs and lectures to makedesign a weapon to transform and grow our economyand to better plan our lives and environment.SPREAD makes design thinking, tools and processesaccessible to design and business students,practitioners and even school children.” Today,along the NODES network, one can see the thinkingbetween the Parsons design knowledge network laband Idiom’s SPREAD project. As NODES expandsto other consultancies and schools, Carlos expects
increasing knowledge to ow South to South among
consultancies in Asia, Latin America and Africa aswell as between South to North.Business is beginning to follow. European and U.S.cor-porations are increasingly using local innovationconsultancies for their local business. And otheremerging market countries are starting to hireconsultancies schooled in design thinking. Idiomwas recently hired by companies in Sri Lanka whohave heard of its strategic design capabilities andBrazil- based Crama has new business in Angola forthe same reason. Mexico-based Insitum has opened
ofces in the U.S., Brazil and Colombia, and works
It was predicted that we, the people, couldreally move mountains in the year 2011.It was our year, when like-minded peoplecould come together and accomplish greatthings... provided those who were willing toput in hard work and dedication.Mountains, we did move. As nations, networksand people we actively sought change,accomplished a lot... across the world. Fromunrest leading to the beginning of a new orderin the Middle East, to confronting challengesposed by the Euro crisis. From the end ofthe ‘Osama’ chapter to the beginning of theOccupy movements seen across the world.Closer home, the Jan Lok Pal and the variousscams that rocked India, asked searchingquestions of the very establishments wewere all part of creating. Yes! All of uswere made to recognize that change at adeeper level was not only an imperative buta distinct possibility.At a microcosmic level, we at Idiom toowere expected to become the changethat we were seeking. The year began,
ironically for us on 1/11/11, with agging
off the DREAM:IN initiative. An attempt todemonstrate that we do not necessarilyhave to make products smaller, when wecan make aspirations larger.Needs need not be the starting point forinnovation and creation. Why not beginwith something larger, dreams for example?The idea resounded not only in India, but invarious parts of the world. Leaving us nochoice but to live up to the expectations wehad created.One thing led to another: new projects,events, workshops, initiatives and newplatforms for co-creation. So much so that,we would like to believe that actually theera of the creative economy and creativebusiness began in the year 2011.Thanks to the support we got for ourideas, for our design practice, for theinitiatives we launched, we found quitea few champions not only in India butacross latitudes and longitudes.People who believe that design can beactively deployed to create new value andlasting change.
India’s creative industries, seen more as a symbolicrepresentation of the country’s cultural identity anddiversity, are fast emerging as potent contributors tobusiness growth.The creative economy, which straddles a wide rangeof goods and services from arts and crafts to audiovisuals, design, performing arts, is seeing huge growth
in specic sectors such as media and entertainment,
which is expected to reach Rs 738 billion in 2011, upfrom 652 billion in 2010, according to a FICCI-KPMGreport released earlier this year.The textile and apparel industry, of which thecountry’s fashion industry is an integral part, isexpected to contribute 5% to India’s GDP and 20%to the country’s total export earnings, according todata sourced from Technopak.“The notion that creativity can have an absolutevalue is yet to be seriously considered in India. Infact, innovation has an impact on everything wedo and on every industry, from automobiles tocommunications,” said Sonia Manchanda, who leadsone of India’s largest integrated design practices,Idiom Designs.As the entire focus in a creative venture is onthe individual’s creativity, the larger public tendsto ignore the business side of the enterprise,said Rwituja Gomes Mookherjee, BritishCouncil’s Head of Creative Economy for India andSri Lanka. “A business that can be easily translated
into numbers and gures, which is not possible in
a creative venture, is more easily understood bypeople,” she added.As creative start-ups mushroom across India’sservices sector, the country has an opportunity
to improve its ranking of fth among developing
nations, in the export of visual arts, well below itsAsian neighbours, China and Singapore, according toan UNCTAD report. However, creative entrepreneursin India are yet to scale the heights of their westerncounterparts. Barring Idiom Designs, which hashad Kishore Biyani’s Future Group investing in it,and Foley Designs, in which Technopak pumped inmoney, few ventures in the creative segment havebeen able to raise risk capital, which, according toentrepreneurs, is a prerequisite for achieving scale.“The industry, as a whole, hasn’t gotten muchattention from the venture capital players so far. Butthe creative industry has to play a more prominentrole as well. We have to ensure greater awarenessof disruptive new ideas and innovation,” Idiom’sManchanda said.
India Emerging proles upcoming entrepreneurs who
are making a mark in some of the creative industries.Publishing Cinnamon Teal, a Goa-based venturethat works with authors to self-publish their work,originated as an online bookstore for used books.Founded by Leonard Fernandes and his wife QueenieFernandes, Cinnamon Teal was launched in August2007, as they received a number of queries fromwannabe authors. Cinnamon Teal offers end-to-endpublishing services, including pre-publishing editing,proof reading, cover design and the actual printing.Leonard said authors opt to self-publish when theywant complete control over the publishing process.
“The author has the nal say and all rights rest with
him, unlike in a normal publishing house where therights are with the publisher,” said Leonard. Cinnamon
Teal charges a xed fee per service provided, which
can range from 85 per page edited to 5,000 for thecover design, and has published the works of almost200 individual authors, many of them from abroad.They have also ventured out into publishingvernacular works and e-books. Leonard wantsCinnamon Teal to continue to be a boutiquepublishing house so he can take up interestingprojects such as the one he did recently forLondon’s School of Oriental and African Studies,where he digitised a Portuguese text on CatholicTeachings that was published in Goa in the 1600s.
dO THe neW
A host of new challenges, projects across categoriesfrom our traditional believers, i.e. Future Group andManipal, to many more entrepreneurs and businesseswanting to make a big difference
It was also the year when Idiom opened its doors todoing its bit by giving space, resources besides activelyparticipating in meaningful interventions anchored byother like-minded organizations.
We are PrIVILeGed
We are indeed privileged that we got the opportunity tohost many a dignitary, visionary, business and thoughtleader in the year.
2011 saw acceptance for our brand of thought designas the beginning of design actually becoming a potent,inclusive socio-economic force.
An idea and a initiative incubated at Idiom, spreadingacross the world, which we hope will create a new waveof thought and action, a new stream of consciousness.
nssb: Chi, Ii, mxico, Bzil ebc “dsig Thikig”
“Th isty, s whol, hs’t gottch tttio fo th vt cpitlplys so f. Bt th ctiv istyhs to ply o poit ol s wll.W hv to s gt wss ofisptiv w is iovtio,”Iio’s mch si.“Th otio tht ctivity c hv bsolt vl is yt to b sioslycosi i Ii. I fct, iovtiohs ipct o vythig w o o vy isty, fo toobils tocoictios,” si Soi mch,who ls o of Ii’s lgst itgtsig pctics, Iio dsigs.Iio ws ctly hi by copis iSi Lk who hv h of its sttgicsig cpbilitis.So f, nOdeS cocts Psos toIio dsig Cosltig, kysig thikig-bs cosltcy i Ii.Iio fo Soi mch is closfi of Clos ctly hlp lchSPread to sp th wo of sigthikig i h coty. H’s wht thIio Wb sit sys bot it:“SPread ws hc bo s th sigotch pog of Iio. Sic itsictio th ys go SPreadhs sccssflly wok with viosistittios bsiss hosscoctig wokshops, si pogs lcts to k sig wpoto tsfo gow o cooy to btt pl o livs viot. SPread ks sigthikig, tools pocsss ccssiblto sig bsiss stts,pctitios v school chil.”
Ctiv bsisss tk ct stg
4 nOV, 2011 - THe eCOnOmIC TImeS
THE ECONOMIC TIMESTHE ECONOMIC TIMESBRUCE NUSSBAUMBRUCE NUSSBAUM