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Andy Ogden is Chair of Art Center’s Graduate Industrial Design Program.

Systems for Change andy ogden

“The rate of change, of change, is changing; it’s going much faster.” —DANNY HILLIS, CIRCA 1997

Many of us share a perception that the world we live in is changing around us ever-faster. Technological progress has brought us to a point where we can vividly see, study and develop understanding of macro changes and systemic impacts of human existence that had been invisible to us. With a world population of over seven billion people, widespread industrialization, and the amplification of human abilities through new technologies, our future holds great potential for both amazing new life experiences and unprecedented economic, environmental and social tragedies. Moving forward, we know that we—and our technologies; the things we create—are parts of larger systems and that it is imperative to understand them as best we can as we create change. Individuals and organizations that are resilient to rapid change will need to constantly anticipate how the systems of which they are part are changing and how their creations are likely to affect those systems. Commercial markets that once supported steady and protected growth for a relatively few number of firms are now saturated with fierce competition from around the world. Communities linked by digital networks can form rapidly around ideas and activities that are decoupled from time and geography. The combined effects are highly disruptive to many previously stable systems. Organizations are finding that the activities that had consistently made them successful in prior decades are simply not working anymore. They often discover that beyond a need to reinvent their offerings, they face a larger challenge to develop a lasting culture of innovation for their enterprise; an ability to constantly change and pursue new areas of growth where risks are high, the direction to success is unclear, and the problems are complex and unstructured.In thi


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In this challenging context, well-prepared designers are uniquely suited to lead in the creation of important value and to influence positive change. Historically, the field of industrial design focused on providing a service to marketers that would make a company’s products more attractive to would-be customers. As specialists, industrial designers understood how to apply materials and manufacturing processes and to work with engineers to transform their ideas into manufactured goods. While these aspects of the industrial design profesPhoto: Chad Blockley PHOT ’02 sion are still important for the development of successful products, today the thought and decision making practices familiar to designers are becoming integral parts of the strategic intelligence and leadership of resilient and innovative organizations. Today, most products are conceived of as product and service systems. They are inherently complex, and they are (necessarily) developed by cross-disciplinary teams. To grow, let alone sustain their enterprise, companies must plan several moves ahead.

The best industrial designers possess the ability to visualize future possibilities, and to lead as creative integrators of the human, technological and business issues for any challenge or opportunity. Designers who lead innovation teams will need to embrace and understand all aspects of the system, including how to align diverse cultures within the organization.

DOT 19  

DOT 19 is dedicated to the Art Center College of Design’s new strategic plan, Create Change, which sets the stage for the next era of growth...

DOT 19  

DOT 19 is dedicated to the Art Center College of Design’s new strategic plan, Create Change, which sets the stage for the next era of growth...