The Highways and Byways to Radical Innovation

Page 1


Poul RIND Christensen & Sabine Junginger (eds.)

high AND BY


Design school Kolding & university of southern Denmark



The Road Not Taken Robert Frost



Design, Innovation & Change Sabine Junginger & Poul Rind Christensen


Chapter 1

Taking a Meaning Perspective — A third dimension of innovation Åsa Öberg & Roberto Verganti


Chapter 2

The Paradoxical Road to Innovation — The role of creative design Birgit Helene Jevnaker


Chapter 3

Travelling Light — An evolutionary approach to radical innovation Martin Woolley


Chapter 4

The Way We Innovate Needs Innovation Cordy Swope


Chapter 5

Public Innovation Labs — A byway to public sector innovation? Sabine Junginger


Chapter 6

Co-Designing can Seed the Landscape for Radical Innovation and Sustainable Change Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders


Chapter 7

The Dynamics of Resistance — Lessons from the SCI ARS project Mikael Scherdin & Ivo Zander


Chapter 8

The Role of Users in Heating Systems Transitions — The case of heat pumps in Finland Eva Heiskanen, Sampsa Hyysalo, Mikko Jalas, Jouni K. Juntunen & Raimo Lovio


Chapter 9

The Rocky Road to Radical Transition — A micro perspective on systemic innovation Poul Rind Christensen & Mette Mikkelsen



Roads taken and paths yet to be explored Poul Rind Christensen & Sabine Junginger


About the Authors




The Highways and Byways to Radical Innovation — Design Perspectives

The Highways and Byways to Radical Innovation – Design Perspectives Š 2014 Design School Kolding and University of Southern Denmark. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Edited by Poul Rind Christensen and Sabine Junginger. Designed by Stefan Thorsteinsson and Cecilie Nellemann. Set in Monotype Ehrhardt, and Bitstream Drescher Grotesk. Printed on 100 gsm Amber Graphic. Printing and binding by Narayana Press, Gylling. ISBN 978-87-90775-74-2 E-ISBN 978-87-90775-75-9

THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Social Fund THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Regional Development Fund

Investing in your future

The Highways and Byways to Radical Innovation — Design Perspectives  Poul RIND Christensen & Sabine Junginger (EDS.)

Design school Kolding University of Southern Denmark

P 4

Running Head


Running Head

PREFACE The Road Not Taken



Preface The Road Not Taken Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Reference Robert Frost: Mountain Interval. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920;, 1999.

I 8

Running Head


Running Head

INTRODUCTION Design, Innovation & Change



INTRODUCTION Design, Innovation & Change Sabine Junginger & Poul RIND Christensen

Neither innovation nor design is a new phenomenon. Throughout history, mankind has persistently transformed resources from nature into cultural artifacts, symbols and systems for the benefit of human life and human interaction. Although innovation and design have gone hand in hand throughout history, their relationship has received little scholarly attention until recently. Several features link design and innovation: They share a strong focus in terms of novelty and the creative processes associated with imagining and creating opportunities for the future. Design is seen as crucial in the early stages of innovation. Design has the knack of dealing with nascent ideas and concepts that have yet to be created, bringing abstract ideas to a form suited for production. Aubert (1982) has conceptualized design as “the very core of innovation, the moment when a new object is imagined, devised and shaped in prototype form.” From this perspective, design is one of the keys to the transformation of even radical generic technical prospects into specific opportunities. The basic rationale behind the initiative to assemble this anthology is to explore current issues in this strong and lasting nexus between innovation and design. Several researchers have pointed to the absence of design perspectives in innovation research. Cruickshank for example observed that “no design journals were represented” in a review of the top 50 technology innovation journals undertaken by Jonathan Linton and Narongsak Thongpapanl in 2004 (Cruickshank 2010, p. 18). Likewise, Whyte, in her review of the 2005 edition of the Oxford Handbook of Innovation by Fagerberg et al., deplored the “underrepresentation of design activities in this literature” and a “tendency to see design in relation to ephemeral fashions and fads” (Whyte 2007). She concludes that its authors remain “most comfortable with technological

aspects of innovation.”1 The aim of this anthology is to present a diversity of scholarly contributions which, we believe, will help close this gap. Despite the well-established connection between design, change and innovation in the research and consultancy literature (Simon 1969/1996; Walsh, 1996; Rothwell & Gardiner, 1983; Mau 2004; Brown 2009), we find that studies on design from the perspective of incremental innovation have dominated, while studies on the role of design in radical innovations are scantly represented. Innovation in design has remained an underlying—sometimes more, sometimes less explicit—theme in the bulk of the works. The contributions to this anthology highlight and expand on these perspectives embedded in the juncture between design and innovation. One of the recurrent themes in innovation research is the divide between incremental and radical innovations. Since incremental innovations build on existing knowledge and capabilities within a company and the rejuvenation and expansion of what already exists, the role of design in many studies has emphasized and aligned with the development of the innovation routines (Pavitt, 2000) of the organization. The role of design has received less scholarly attention when it comes to disruptive and radical innovations that render current competencies obsolete and assign a role to design in new ventures introducing radical innovations. Moreover, the role of design in the interplay between incremental technological trajectories and radical innovation leaves many questions unanswered. Therefore, we called on contributors to this anthology to identify and reflect on opportunities, pitfalls, paradoxes, methods and models, when working with farreaching change and radical innovation and the contribution of design. What part does design play in shaping the highways and byways to innovation? Since the phrase ‘disruptive innovations’ was coined by Christensen and Overdorf (2000), a number of studies have been dedicated to the study of the organizational limitations and dilemmas (Stacey, 2007) preventing innovation from breaking out of beaten technological and institutional trajectories. Several scholars have suggested that radical innovation seems to be the domain of new entrepreneurial enterprises rather than of incumbent firms (Baumol, 2004). Some of the contributions in this anthology raise a number of questions that challenge the above statement and expand the view on the relationship between the highways and byways to innovation. They relate to issues of organizational disruption by design and to organizational ambiguities associated with location and integration of design in the organization as well as the role of design in facilitating innovation. However, before we explain what we mean by highways and byways to innovation, we shall briefly reflect on the current understanding of innovation and design and how the concepts are commonly perceived. Firms pursuing innovation have a tendency to steer innovation processes towards anticipatory outcomes in order to fine-tune the innovation process of the firm (Tidd, Bessant & Pavitt, 2002). Studies on innovation and design thus often treat design processes and design projects as detached from the organization showing a bias towards specified outcomes (Veryzer 1998; Veryzer et al. 1999). Alternatively, design is viewed as a source of innovation inspiration (Utterbeck et al. 2006). Neither of these approaches explores the opportunities designing offers to impose changes to an innovation environment. In the extreme, this ‘industrializing’ approach to innovation limits absorption of opportunities that may emerge in uncharted landscapes along the road. Such an approach seems reminiscent of following a “road well-travelled,” an innovation highway that reduces uncertainty and avoids emerging surprises. In an effort to reduce uncertainty and emergence, routines are instituted and a well-known direction followed,




The Handbook’s index does refer to organizational design in the work by Alfred Chandler and at least one chapter (Chapter 4, Innovation Processes by Keith Pavitt) talks about product design.


Junginger & Christensen

which reduces engagement with the environment of the innovation context. But when innovation contexts are ignored, innovations cannot become vehicles for change within the wider organization (Junginger 2008) or within the ecosystem of the organization and are thus incapable of effecting change within society as a whole. Likewise, opportunities for innovation provided by changes already taking place in these environments are missed. This may explain why the agenda of Open Innovation (Chesbrough, 2003) has gained momentum. Although the agenda of Open Innovation has a strong focus on corporations and their acquisition of knowledge from outside the organization, the agenda of Open Innovation also highlights the reality that no organization is an island and that neither innovation nor design takes place in a vacuum of a closed organization. From this perspective, innovation and design processes are exposed to the environment and encompass participatory elements and ambiguity of key interest to research. If we compare the terms innovation and change, innovation embodies something intentional, while change includes much stronger elements of emergence. While the relevant actors and stakeholders around innovation have a strong focus on the essence of a given innovation and its intended outcomes, there are often much wider changes at stake—in the organization, in the ecosystem of the organization, and in society as a whole —that are unnoticed side effects of the intended outcomes of the innovation process. The Danish philosopher K. E. Løgstrup (1978) has stated that what really changes the world is not the intended technical progress, but the unnoticed spontaneous side effects that are ingrained in society. While it is generally accepted that innovation always involves some kind of change, we sense a need for examples and studies on design-led innovation approaches that explicitly allow for emergent and unknown change possibilities. In this book, we wonder what innovation looks like outside the innovation highway and how innovation highways and byways relate to each other. The purpose of this book is to learn what form these relationships may take and how design perspectives might help to navigate them. The absence of design perspectives in innovation and the continued focus on technological innovations are not problems unique to the design field. Miles and Snow (1994) point out that hanging on to ideas and practices that were successful in the past indicates organizational extension failures: failures that are caused when (innovation) routines and solutions that were successful in the past are employed to solve (innovation) problems of the future. If innovation is in essence the act of carrying out new combinations as Schumpeter (1947) argues, one question that needs to be answered is: do byways offer a better prospect to combine and overcome existing methods and processes in new ways? If so, can managers and designers recognize, assess and pursue opportunities to depart from the familiar innovation routines? How can they employ design to navigate unknown territories and landscapes full of uncertainties and risks? The contributions in this anthology seek answers to these questions by studying the contingent processes of design and innovation at the macro and mezzo levels and across the context of organizational, environmental and social change. Several contributions in this anthology deal with the paradoxical nexus of intended and emerging outcomes of innovation as well as the wider contextual changes implied. Although we have distinguished at the outset between innovation approaches that travel existing highways and innovation byways navigating in uncharted landscapes, with clearly marked or uncertain destinations, we realize that even highways to innovation pass through uncharted landscapes (for example, the landscapes of upcoming new technologies and social innovation) and cannot circumvent unanticipated outcomes. The contributions in this anthology remind us that innovation remains situated in the

organizational context and is dependent on the actors, activities and resources embedded in collaborative as well as competitive spaces emerging along the way. These contingencies of the design-led innovation processes are, in fact, the source of some of the innovative paradoxes. With that in mind, our title “Highways and Byways to Radical Innovation – Design Perspectives” echoes Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” as we think of a highway to innovation as a road well traveled, yet full of unsuspected obstacles and surprises, but one we have reasons to anticipate will eventually bring us to the destination we have in mind. A byway, on the other hand, lacks the needed road signs. Few people have gone there before, and few may follow, as the byway is a path specific to a particular journey. A byway is therefore a road that emerges as we proceed. From beginning to end, we cannot be certain where the path will lead. We might find ourselves in a place no one else has been before. We may succeed, but we may also fail and find that the path taken ends in a wilderness. How can we exit from the innovation highway and find the on-ramp to one of the many byways? How can we navigate within such uncharted landscapes? Our contributors offer nine design perspectives in their search for an answer to these questions. In the following chapters, a range of alternative innovation concepts are introduced at different contextual levels of analysis based on perspectives seen by scholars from different angles of design and innovation. A diversity of case studies and examples is presented that demonstrates the practical issues at stake in the intertwined process of design and innovation. The studies also highlight the paradoxes inherent in design based perspectives on innovation research. All in all, the contributions show that when adding design perspectives to the process, the roads of incremental and radical innovation become more tangled than anticipated. The Book Chapter by Chapter The first four chapters offer different views on the nature of innovation and radical change. In Chapter One, Åsa Öberg and Roberto Verganti talk about “Taking a Meaning Perspective: A Third Dimension of Innovation.” They use examples and case studies to demonstrate that many radical changes are independent of new technologies. Rather than promoting views on radically new or different technologies they observe that radical change means innovating the purpose and hence the meaning of certain things in people’s lives. For Öberg and Verganti, meaning presents a third dimension of innovation. They identify four characteristics of innovation that build on the change of meaning and show how they relate to other forms of innovation in the industries that target some form of radical change. In Chapter Two, Birgit H. Jevnaker takes us on “The Paradoxical Road to Innovation – The Role of Creative Design” She relates the characteristic tensions of paradoxes to innovation practices and radical change. Paradoxes exist when two inconsistent or opposite states of being and doing, such as ‘innovation and efficiency,’ or ‘new and old’ have to be satisfied. Jevnaker describes several techniques that connect to opportunities and challenges of exploration and exploitation. Her chapter hints at the paradoxes implicit in our ideas about innovation, radical change and, not least, the potentially paradoxical relationship between highways and byways. Martin Woolley picks up the theme in Chapter Three “Travelling Light – an Evolutionary Approach to Radical Innovation.” He offers a long-term perspective on design-led innovation and focuses on evolutionary approaches. Woolley introduces and explains Design-led Continuous Innovation (DCI) as a strategic tool that puts design at the center of a process to generate novel and at times disruptive products, services and systems




Junginger & Christensen

without losing focus on the long-term implications for new knowledge. He exemplifies the DCI approach with the Microcab project run by Coventry University (UK) in a collaborative network of stakeholders providing insights into a different innovation approach to joint public-sector/university/enterprise initiatives. Chapter Four offers a critique of how companies introduce innovation and change in their organizations. In “The Way We Innovate Needs Innovation” Cordy Swope makes use of his international experience as a design professional and design consultant to identify two important structural limitations many organizations and businesses have created for themselves. He suggests new models of innovation and new practices of innovating. Swope’s observations and analysis of the actions and thinking within organizations highlight the reality that radical changes mean different things to different people. He stresses that the culture of ‘sameness’ tends to form the mindset of the members of organizations and constrain the ability to create new-to-the-world offers. External consultants, including designers, are often hired for their cultural fit rather than their output. Swope concludes his chapter with reflections on potential changes to the organizational system that in turn could alter the practice of innovation in established organizations. Chapter Five shifts the focus to the challenges involved in public-sector innovation. In “Public Innovation Labs: A Byway to Public Sector Innovation?” Sabine Junginger explores how governments deal with these kinds of challenges. She suggests that public innovation labs do present a byway to public-sector innovation. Her chapter introduces the Innovation Lab at the US Office of Personnel Management as an example of how governments seek to employ human-centered design approaches to transform public organizations. In her reflection, she also acknowledges and identifies the challenges public-innovation labs currently face. In Chapter Six, “Co-Designing Can Seed the Landscape for Radical Innovation and Sustainable Change” Elizabeth B.N. Sanders pinpoints three levels at which codesign can add value: the monetary level, the use or experience level, and the societal level. At each of these levels, co-design pursues different objectives, requires different mindsets, and involves different people, deliverables and time frames. She discusses these value levels in relation to the design development process and proposes specific methods to engage people in co-design and collective creativity based on a case of quality of life for people living with diabetes. In Chapter Seven, “The Dynamics of Resistance – Lessons from the SCI ARS Project” Mikael Scherdin and Ivo Zander trace the dynamics of resistance to innovation based on their experiences from the SCI ARS project. They argue that traditional views on the role of emotions do not sufficiently explain why people actively resist innovative designs. They propose that we also need to pay attention to partly or largely unrelated dynamics and processes that may emerge at any time during the pursuit and exposure of a novel idea. However, these dynamics can have profoundly negative effects on the initiators’ chances of rounding up sufficient support for sustained and successful implementation. They suggest that the timing of publishing radical ideas to innovation is of key importance to successful implementation. Chapter Eight “The Role of Users in Heating Systems Transitions – The Case of Heat Pumps in Finland” by Eva Heiskanen, Sampsa Hyysalo, Mikko Jalas, Jouni K. Juntunen and Raimo Lovio portray and analyze a method for avoiding resistance. The research team starts with the premise that innovation and diffusion are not separate processes, but rather a continual process of innofusion. They argue that innofusion is part of the process through which sustainable technologies grow out of narrow niches when new

users and new contexts of use expand the scope of a technology. Heiskanen et al. present radical innovation as a slow process, in which the “byways” to technological change are very important for the creation of a broader “highway.” Innovation efforts are rarely smooth. This view is underlined by Poul Rind Christensen and Mette Mikkelsen in Chapter Nine. Looking at “The Rocky Road to Radical Transition – a Micro Perspective on Systemic Innovation” they turn our attention to the systemic character of most innovations. The systemic dependencies are illustrated by the ‘etrans’ project aimed at introducing electric cars in Denmark. Perspectives on the nexus of design and innovation are outlined on the level of dominant design, the level of architectural design, and the level of component design. Based on insights from the interplay between macro and micro intentions and actions leading to break-through innovations or the opposite— innovative stalemate situations—they conclude that intentions are by far the sole governing principle. The numerous entrepreneurial ventures emerging and nursed by the system produce serendipity and opportunities that may eventually alter the system. Thus they turn the attention to the “Fuzzy Back End of Design” – the often unnoticed role of implementation and commercialization. The book concludes with a brief epilogue, in which we revisit the individual contributions and sum up major themes as well as diverging and converging aspects of these different design perspectives. We discuss inherent contradictions, parallels, and connections in the theories and concepts outlined in the nine contributions. Our conclusion serves to accumulate the knowledge and insights about the nexus of design, innovation and radical change. We point to new areas of research into methods and practices of design in innovation to inform work in the areas of entrepreneurship, social innovation and design management in theory and in practice. Acknowledgements The inspiration for this anthology came from the etrans project at Design School Kolding aimed at designing new infrastructural elements serving the use of electric cars. The project challenged the design team to reflect on its own understanding of innovation. It sparked a long discussion about the role of design and designers in identifying and creating opportunities deviating from prescribed targets and prearranged innovation approaches. Inspirations also came from the then upcoming project—Design to Innovate (D2i)2—aiming to inspire and engage small and medium-sized enterprises to use designbased concepts, tools and approaches in their innovation efforts. The background for this project was the statistical evidence produced by the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority (2003 and 2008) stating that enterprises using design at the high levels of the Design Ladder model are more innovative than enterprises lacking awareness of the role of design. This book owes its realization to major support from these projects. We are grateful to both the e-trans and the D2i team for creating the opportunity and space to reflect on this topic and to allow us access to their respective projects to advance our own understanding. We want to express our deep appreciation to Mette Mikkelsen, who led the e-trans project, and to Karsten Bech, who is in charge of Design to Innovate. Several of the authors have inspired the design team at Design to Innovate. We also thank Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, Rector of Design School Kolding and Irene Lønne, Head of Research at Design School Kolding for their support. We greatly appreciate all the work done by the external reviewers, who committed themselves to the huge task of providing detailed feedback on each chapter as part of the double




The Design to Innovate project is based on a consortium with members from the business community, Design School Kolding and University of Southern Denmark. It is a project co-funded by the European Union.


Junginger & Christensen

blind review undertaken. A few individuals deserve special mentioning. They include Marianne Storgaard, currently holding a postdoc position at the University of Southern Denmark, Anne Louise Bang, Assistant Professor at Design School Kolding, and Anne Flemmert Jensen, former head of research at the e-trans project, currently Director Insights & Direction Design of Lego Future Lab, part of the Lego Group. We would also like to express our gratitude to assistant Jytte Krogh Jørgensen, University of Southern Denmark and research secretary Christina Stind Rosendahl, Design School Kolding, for keeping track of the publication process; to graphic designers Stefan Thorsteinsson and Cecilie Nellemann, who worked on the graphic layout of this book, and to editor and proof-reader Helle Raheem, who ensured consistency and readability of the English text throughout the book. In addition, many other people provided their support and encouragement, and we thank them profoundly for assisting in the completion of this book.

References Aubert, J-E. 1982. Innovation in Small and Medium Firms. OECD Memo. Baumol, W. J. 2004. Entrepreneurial Cultures and Countercultures, Academy of Management Learning and Education, 3, 3, pp. 316–326. Brown, T. 2009. Design for Change. Harper Business, New York, NY. Chesbrough, H. W. 2003. Open Innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Harvard Business School Press, Boston. Christensen C. M. & Overdorf, M. 2000. Meeting the Challenge of Disruptive Change, Harvard Business Review. 78, 2. March–April. Cruickshank, L. 2010. The Innovation Dimension: Designing in a Broader Context, Design Issues, 26, 2, pp. 17–26. Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority. 2003. Designs Økonomiske Effekter (Economic Impacts of Design), Copenhagen. Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority. 2008. Design Skaber Værdi (The Value Creation of Design), Copenhagen. Fagerberg, J. Mowery, D. C. & Nelson, R. R. (eds.). 2005. The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Fagerberg, J. 2005. Innovation: A Guide to the Literature. The Oxford Handbook of Innovation. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 1–27. Frost, R. The Road Not Taken 1916. Poetry collection Mountain Interval. Hargadon, A. B. and Douglas, Y. 2001. When innovations meet institutions: Edison and the design of the electric light, Administrative Science Quarterly 46, pp. 476–501.


Junginger, S. & Sangiorgi, D. 2009. Service Design as a Vehicle for Organizational Change. IASDR Conference, Seoul 2009. Løgstrup, K. E. 1978. Spontanitet som samfundskritisk nødvendighed (Spontaneity as a socially critical imperative). Blum, J. & Sjørslev (eds.). Seeds of a New Way of Life: The National Museum. Copenhagen. Mau, B. & Leonard J. (eds.) 2004. Massive Change. Phaidon Press. Miles, R. E. & Snow, C. C. 1994. Fit, Failure & the Hall of Fame. How Companies Succeed or Fail. The Free Press, NY. Pavitt, K. 2000. Innovating Routines in the Business Firm: What matters, what’s staying the same, and what’s changing? Electronic Working Papers Series, 45, SPRU, University of Sussex, Brighton. Schumpeter, J. A. 1947. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, (2nd ed.). New York, Harper and Brothers. Simon, Herbert, A. 1996. The Sciences of the Artificial. MIT Press, 3rd Edition. Stacey, R. D. 2007. Strategic Management and Organizational Dynamics. 2nd edition. Pitman Publishing, London. Tidd, J.; Bessant, J. & Pavitt, K. 2002. Managing Innovation, 2nd edition. Wiley, Chichester. Utterbeck, J.; Vedin, B-A.; Alvarez, E.’ Ekman, S.; Sanderson, S. W.; Tether, B. and Verganti, R. (2006) Design-Inspired Innovation, (London, UK: World-Scientific Publishing Co.). Veryzer, Robert (1998). Discontinuous Innovation and the New Product Development Process. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 15, 4, pp. 304–321.


19 Veryzer, Robert W., Habsburg, Stefan & Veryzer, Robert (1999). Managing the Challenge of Design for Innovation. Design Management Journal, 10, 4, pp. 29–34, fall. Walsh, V. (1996). Design, innovation and the boundaries of the firm. Research Policy, 25, pp. 509–529.

Junginger & Christensen

1 20

Running Head


Running Head

Taking a meaning perspective — A third  dimension of innovation



Taking a meaning perspective — A third dimension of innovation Åsa Öberg, Mälardalen University & Roberto Verganti, Politecnico di Milano

Innovation from the Outlaws

“A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” — First Law of Robotics1

Isaac Asimov saw it right a long time ago, in 1942, when he wrote the First law of Robotics. A scientist by education, he knew that technology has immense potential and is a major driver of innovation. A humanist at heart, however, he knew that technology is not the only dimension of innovation: there are other directions of unexpected change, one of which is the purpose for which technology is used. The Laws of Robotics are incorporated into the robots in Asimov’s novels to indicate what a meaningful purpose is and what is not. A novelist by profession, he played on the intersection between technology and meaning: what if technological innovation challenges the laws and manages to move beyond what is currently meaningful? In particular, to move beyond the idea that robots are meant to be “as far as possible from people.” What Asimov did not expect in his creative mind is that there was no need to live in a futuristic imaginary scenario or wait for extreme advancements in artificial intelligence to challenge the first law of robotics. In 2003, the German company KUKA Roboter GmbH, a major player in the robotics industry,


The First Law of Robotics appears in many novels of Isaac Asimov, who introduced it first in the novel “Runaround,” 1942.

released the RoboCoaster – a robot used in amusement parks to provide a totally new experience to people willing to enjoy the thrills of a breath-taking ride. It consists of a robotic arm with two seats at its end for people to sit on. During the ride, the robotic arm lifts the passengers in the air, swirls, stops suddenly, turns them upside down and in many directions with different speeds and dynamics thanks to a practically unrestricted freedom of motion granted by its six axes of rotation and six degrees of freedom. The peculiarity of the RoboCoaster is not only the unique combination of movements it allows, but also the possibility for passengers to program their 90-second ride themselves. Before embarking on the RoboCoaster, the passengers go through a software application in which they can select from various motion profiles and speeds, depending on their age and how brave they want to be (more than 1.4 million combinations are possible). They can design a gentle, easy-going ride, or opt for a totally wild experience, whirling them up, down and sideways through the air. From the first ten robots delivered to the Legoland Amusement Park in 2003, to the recent adoption in the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride in Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, KUKA has sold about 150 RoboCoasters, opening an unexpected application for an industry that has recently experienced a major turmoil due to the recession that hit major automotive clients. The RoboCoaster does not require revolutionary technology. It is based on an adaptation of a standard heavy-duty robot from KUKA, the KR 500, which has the unique feature of being able to lift 350 kilograms (two people plus the seat) and simultaneously having a long arm. The technology is therefore accessible to any manufacturer of industrial robots. Yet, after more than ten years, KUKA is still the only competitor in the field. Why did other companies not recognize (and still do not recognize) this opportunity? The point is that even though the RoboCoaster uses existing technology, it challenges the existing paradigmatic interpretation of what an industrial robot is. There are two shared laws among executives of industrial robotic products. The first one is that their firms are in the business of efficiency. Robots are serious stuff, meant to increase productivity. The second one is that robots need to keep a distance from humans, due to their potential to severely harm people. Yet, the RoboCoaster is not used for improving efficiency, but for entertainment. It does not keep a distance from humans; rather, it is the first passenger-carrying industrial robot. The RoboCoaster is a revolutionary change in what industrial robots are meant for. In other words, it is a “radical change in meaning.” This new meaning was not a dominant assumption of incumbents in the industry. When we talk about this application with robot professionals, their reaction is skeptical, sometimes ironic. “Yes, indeed, KUKA has a reputation for being innovative,” they say. “But this is not robotics; it is just a marketing trick.” The movements are nothing to talk about, nothing new or fancy. No new technology is involved. KUKA is not addressing the innovation puzzles that the innovators in the industry are focused on (speed, precision, strength) to solve the “big problems” that are currently considered meaningful in the industry. The RoboCoaster is “outside of the law.” It is simply a radical innovation of meanings that, by definition, is considered meaningless if observed with the lenses of traditional paradigms. Theories of innovation, and especially of radical innovation, have often overlooked the innovation of meanings, especially in its more radical form. In this chapter, we will illustrate how this innovation is related to other types of innovation;


Taking a meaning Perspective


Öberg & Verganti

Figure 1.1 The RoboCoaster

we will discuss its nature and show that radical innovation of meanings always occurs, in every industry, and has the power to shape competition going forward. A new language and a new context

Figure 1.2 The technology and market dimensions



The technology – market discussion A classic way to relate to innovation is by the dimensions of technology and market (see Figure 1.2). Either, technology (or “technological opportunities” as stated by Schumpeter (Schumpeter 1934 )) is identified as the driver of innovation. Or, market is seen as the driving force. Within these two dimensions, innovation can be described as taking place both on an existing market or a new market (horizontal axis). Nonetheless, innovation can happen with the help of an existing or a new technology (vertical axis). This can also be described as incremental innovation (with existing means of market or technology), or as radical innovation (with a new element introduced, in terms of technology or in terms of market). This reasoning of combining two drivers of innovation (technology and market) with the depth of innovation (incremental or radical) has resulted in many different frameworks. See for example Ansoff (Ansoff 1965) with Technology his matrix on products and markets, Burgelman et al. (Burgelman, Maidique et al. 2004) on technology and market applications and Mcgrath and Mcmillian (McGrath and MacMillan 2009) with their matrix on technologies and market segments. None of these theories appropriately capture an innovation of meaning, such as in the case of the RoboCoaster, a standard product that moves from the field of automotive industry to the field of amusement parks. In this Incremental case, we cannot talk about technology innovation





or “technology breakthrough.” There is, as Technology described earlier, no new technology involved. Nor can we simply talk about market innovation. The RoboCoaster is indeed an application of an existing technology in a new market. It is, in other words, as Kim and Mauborgne would call it, a search for a “Blue Ocean” (new market), instead of staying on the battlefield in a red ocean (existing markets)(Kim and Mauborgne Incremental 2005). However, the RoboCoaster is not merely a move of existing technology (and user experience) from one market to another. It is not Meaning “lifting capacity for efficiency” that finds a new market to serve. The revolution is not moving from one context (car industry) to a new one (amusement parks). The move includes more than that. What is different is that the purpose of ‘why use this product?’ changes. The purpose (and also the answer to the question “why use this product?”) is no longer “Because we look for lifting capacity to create efficiency and control.” That is, the robot is not used in the amusement park to lift and assemble riding equipment. Rather, the answer would be: “Because we look for lifting capacity to create emotions.” The movements therefore deliver something else: from being precise and accurate to offering a freedom of selection that makes every ride different and unique. In other words, the move to the new context also includes a move of the purpose. Innovation, in this sense, has to do with the why we are using a product (the meaning of it), not only about where we are using it (the market) or how we are using it (the means, functions or technology). The two dimensions of market and technology are therefore not sufficient to explain this type of innovation. We need a third dimension: the innovation of meaning – a central element of which is the user, her experience and how she constructs the purpose of using the product. To fully capture this third type of innovation, we therefore need to understand this process of how the user creates a purpose, or meaning. More importantly, when interested in innovation in its radical form, we need to understand how this meaning can change – over time. Innovation in 3D: introducing the dimension of meaning By bringing in the dimension of “meaning” to the debate about (radical) innovations, we expand the scope. From a two dimensional construct of technology and market to include an additional lens, the meaning perspective. The space of innovation therefore becomes a three-dimensional construct. This partially mirrors Abell’s model for business definition (Abell 1980). However, while Abell’s third dimension points to the “what” of a product by discussing different “functions” to fulfill customer needs, our proposal stresses the “why” by discussing the “meaning” searched for by users. This meaning, when translated into solutions (“what”), may include both utilitarian and functional needs, but also emotional and symbolic needs. In other words, the question “why” brings products into a wider perspective, beyond visible and tangible functions. Another difference with Abell’s model is that our perspective is dynamic (on innovation) rather than static (on business definition). In this article, in particular, we focus on the radical change of products’ meanings. We could also name this innovation


Taking a meaning Perspective

MARKET Radical

Figure 1.3 The dimensions of innovation: technology, market, meaning


Öberg & Verganti



Technology “Design-Driven Innovation” (Verganti 2009) as the word design (from the Latin de-signare) RobotStudio is etymologically related to “making sense of things”(Heskett 1985; Krippendorff 1989). Design, by definition, includes bringing meaning. Note that innovation of meanings can be MARKET based on existing or new technologies. For example, while the RoboCoaster launched by KUKA is based on available robotic technology (indeed Incremental Radical it is an adaptation of an existing product), an example of change in meaning associated with RoboCoaster new technology is the RobotStudio simulator Meaning introduced by ABB Robotics in the early 1980s. RobotStudio was developed thanks to breakFigure 1.4 through software technology to better predict the movement and efficiency of the The different robot. Instead of designing, building and trying a robot out in real life, on the fackinds of innovation of meaning (The tory floor, this application enabled car manufacturers to optimize the performance RoboCoaster and of the manufacturing process in a “virtual world.” This simulating capacity made the RobotStudio) it possible to visualize and predict the operations of manufacturing before constructing the robot. The meaning, therefore, moved from selling an efficient robotic arm (hardware) to selling knowledge on how to use it (software). This meant, for example, that the (at that time) current ideas of robots as “fast movers” became somewhat restricted. Now, even a slow robot could be more valuable than a faster one – if it was used in an effective way. Studies on radical technological change, especially in the field of socio-technical change and Actor Network Theory, have explored these interactions between meaning and technologies (Latour 1987; Bijker and Law 1994) in depth. However, the direction of these investigations is the opposite of our purpose: they consider innovation as driven by technology, and change in meaning as an enabler or a consequence. We, on the other hand, focus on innovation driven by the search for a new meaning, with technology being an enabler. Similarly, innovation of meanings concerns both existing and new markets. The RobotStudio is targeted to traditional robotic clients, such as industrial manufacturers, but still it implies a radical change in the reason they buy robots: from searching for speed and efficiency, to searching for knowledge about how to use robots. The RoboCoaster brings robotics into a totally new arena, transforming roller coasting from a ride that is predictable and standard, to an experience that is unpredictable and customizable by passengers. The park’s visitors do not merely get in the ride and sit there, but take an active, creative role in the experience. Whichever the case (either an existing or new technology is applied or an existing or new market is targeted), we focus here on an innovation process where new meanings are searched for and designed, as a way to provide more value to customers and to compete better or in a different manner (Verganti 2009; Moon 2010). What is innovation of meaning?

“… something with implied or explicit significance, with an important or worthwhile quality, a purpose…” — The Oxford English Dictionary

Meaning means (!) a lot of things. Either, it relates to ideas or things communicated in different ways through objects or other means, or it relates to the importance of something or to the purpose of something. For example, when consulting the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, meaning is defined as: 1) 1a) 1b) 2) 3)

The thing, action, feeling, idea, etc. that a word or words represent the ideas that signs, symbols, or ways of behaving represent the ideas that writers, artists, musicians etc. try to express in their work The special importance or purpose of something (old fashioned) communicating a feeling of intention very clearly

Similarly, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary states that meaning is: 1) 2)

The thing or idea that a sound, word, sign, etc. represents The thing or idea that somebody wishes to communicate to you by what they say or do The real importance of a feeling or experience, painting, etc. The quality or sense of purpose that makes you feel that your life is valuable

3) 4)

The online Oxford Dictionaries summarizes the three main meanings as follows:

“what is meant by a word, text, a concept or an action… implied or explicit significance… important or worthwhile quality, purpose …” 2

In short, meaning contains primarily two types of explanations: first, a semiotic explanation, or, more precisely, a semantic acceptation where meaning indicates the relationship between signs and the things to which they refer (as semantics is the meaning of words and phrases). Second, the definition also includes a philosophic, less tangible and visible function by including the words “implied, explicit, important, worthwhile, quality and purpose.” These terms suggest a personal involvement and judgment and could be connected to philosophy (as the study of theories about the meaning of things such as life, knowledge and beliefs, and as the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language). When talking of “innovation of meaning,” we refer to “a user, the product and the surrounding context to interpret a product or service proposal in the way that the purpose changes.” This implies that we refer more to the second part of the definition, the philosophic perspective rather than the Sign Importance semantic. More specifically, we focus on the Symbols Significance purpose of a product or a service, on the “why” Ideas rather than on the “what.” Our perspective of meaning therefore is rooted in a tradition that looks at the meaning of life (such as in philosophy, sociology and psychology), applied to artifacts (as in design and product semantics) and within the dynamics of businesses (as in organizational sense making and in management of innovation).


Taking a meaning Perspective

2   The Oxford Dictionaries (http://english. oxforddictionaries. com, 2014–08–26.

Figure 1.5 The definitions of meaning



Purpose “Why”


Ă–berg & Verganti

ction un

e sag es

Therefore, by product meaning we refer ntext to the purpose of a product or service as perCo ceived by the user. It is connected to the user M experience of the product and it comes from her interpretation of a product. It stems from both emotional and symbolic values (like in the product language and message sent out from the product) but also from the technology and i ng functions connected to the product, delivering a an e M certain performance. The meaning, in the RoboCoaster case, comes both from the appearance of the unexpected movements from the robot (creating emotions and representing different ideas to every spectator) and from the physical experiFigure 1.6 ence of the movements when riding it (related to the functionality of the robot). Meaning as an Meaning, therefore, is created when moving from discussing the what (functions interplay between people and product and messages) to the why (from efficiency to emotion). in a context Hence the innovation of meaning is a change in the purpose of a product or service, coming from a user’s interpretation in a given context of use. From the perspective of a business, an innovation of meaning is present when the company’s message for a product changes and builds on values that express a new reason, a new meaning for why we should buy and use this product. These arguments stem from the user perception and can be expressed both by a company and its clients. F

Meanings are everywhere So far, we have learnt about two robot products, the RoboCoaster by KUKA and the RobotStudio by ABB Robotics. They are both examples of innovations of meaning, one with the help of existing technology on a new market, the other with the help of new technology on an existing market. One shows the change from lifting accurately in an attempt to control, to lifting unpredictably in an attempt to create emotions. The other example shows the change of buying hardware and lifting capacity (a robot) to buying software and knowledge (an application system). We will examine these cases in depth later on. But before that, we will turn our attention to three other examples. Innovations of meaning do not only exist within the field of robotics; they can also be found in any industry to shape competition and competitive advantage. Consider the Swedish sports gear company POC, most famous for its ski helmets, combining new technology with a strong visual appearance. By reflecting and understanding several signals, this company has developed a new meaning for downhill ski helmets. Instead of just offering supportive gear to avoid injuries, the company has added a playful, seductive touch to this life-saving equipment. When visiting the POC website, the visitors dive into a world of protection, where helmets can be personally designed in colors and sizes, connected to ski goggles, body armors, gloves and clothes. The visitors can meet the team of athletes and the special lab behind the new semi-hard shell technology and learn that the company works within biomimetics (the science of adapting biological structures and functions to the purposes of engineering). Visitors are also offered tips on videos, competitions and links to the partners of the company as well as local talent programs in skiing and bicycling.

These offers are not accidental. They are the result of careful listening to signals within skiing technology, life style studies and fashion. POC is clearly not offering just a product; the company offers a scenario of meaning in a market that did not ask for the use of helmets (the meaning associated with ski helmets was indeed that of a device for fearful inexperienced skiers). The founder of POC did not consult users to come up with the new product; instead he worked with sports medicine experts (back specialists) and brain scientists, with neurologists, materials specialists, experts in social media and graphic design, industrial designers, professional athletes and top gravity athletes to elaborate on these signals and create a new scenario. The result is that POC has changed the concept of personal protection from being “a boring must” to a fashionable and attractive feature. Innovations of meanings can also be found in service contexts (see for example Katarina Wetter Edman, discussing meaning in relation to a service design perspective) (Wetter Edman 2014). Let us look at one example within the field of accounting services. In the 1960s, the accountant was the anchor of the finances in a company, keeping the overall picture in his hand and unwilling to let go of too much information. He was the book keeper that kept things under his wings. Similarly, with private clients, the accountant was a general consultant who provided advice about several financial schemes (pension, savings, etc.). With increasing technology in the 1970s, the accountant came to be the informatics expert, delivering loads of numbers and statistics to the company managers. With increasing speed and more complexity, the accountant of today has gone from a local or country-specific focus to a global work environment. Analogously for private clients, the accountant has taken on a very specialized role, focusing mainly on bookkeeping and tax consulting. He or she has turned into a piece in a puzzle of stocks, insurances and pension funds, derivatives and mortgages. Holistic analysis and control is an extremely tough exercise, if not impossible; hence the accountant has to be specialized in certain areas. The meaning has changed significantly, from a “whole-picture” Godfather delivering peace and calm to the top managers and people, to becoming a well-informed and detailed expert. Another example is the development of diapers by Kimberly Clark, which, in 2007, released the “Huggies Little Mover Jeans Diapers.” The blue denim design was launched as a fun and stylish fashion for babies during the summer months allowing children to feel relaxed (their parents, too) when they are running around without pants on. The diaper has a printed pattern that resembles blue denim jeans, with stitched seams and pockets on the back, due to a new technology that allows a clearer and less transparent print than the one normally visible on diapers. Still (but obviously), it kept the core value of leakage protection and great moving ability for toddlers that crawl and scout out their surroundings. But, more than being just a fun and colorful way of dressing a child, this product has


Taking a meaning Perspective

Figure 1.7 Helmet by POC


Öberg & Verganti

also connected to the life-style and preferences of parents, especially moms and their interest in fashion. (Jeans have always been a “Mommy-fashion, a musthave,” according to the company, arguing that it was about time for the little ones to “steal the style” of their moms). But the diaper was not developed only for the child. Rather, the deep blue diapers have become a way for the parent to express her personal style. Instead of using arguments such as “feeling safe,” “giving your baby the best,” and allowing movements and fun (with assistance from famous Disney or other commercial characters), this design appealed to the “needs” of parents, far removed from teddy bears and children’s toys patterns printed in light pastels. This product talked to parents in the search of self-fulfillment as not only a caring parent, but also as an “up-to date,” playful and fashionable one. As a result, the meaning of diapers has moved from a practical and necessary support, bulky and less glamorous to buy, to becoming a self-expressive and prioritized fashion item. But this new meaning is not to be seen as a shallow superficial statement, that children with “fashionable” diapers can move around and play without the necessity of wearing clothes (pants) on top. They also allow more freedom for the child, and they are a convenient situation for the parents. In fact, they create a more open, “no-frills” attitude in the parent-children relationships, and due to the higher engagement among parents, the value of the brand has come to incorporate a more affective connection between customers and the product, more similar to the engagement of a loved and attractive fashion brand. This is an example where the meaning changes from being very practically oriented to also including feelings of affection and good spirit. The peculiarity of radical innovation of meanings Innovation of meaning, especially in its radical form, has a nature and dynamics that are considerably different from other forms of innovation, such as the technology- or market-driven ones. In this section, we discuss these dynamics and how more classic approaches to innovation management can fail when applied to them. In particular, four dimensions capture the peculiar nature of radical innovation of meanings, namely the dimensions of context-dependence, lack of optimization, outlandishness and co-generation. Context-dependence Let us start by going back to KUKA and the case of the RoboCoaster. In the robotics industry, innovation implies searching for solutions that can (almost exclusively) be technically described. And indeed, a rich stream of research has also been inspired by technical innovations (see for example the model of design hierarchy (Clark 1985), or the problem-solving cycles (Clark and Fujimoto 1991), in system engineering design (Pahl and Beitz 1988), and in innovation strategy with reference for example to the resource-based view of corporations (Wernerfelt 1984) and their dynamic capabilities (Teece, Pisano et al. 1997 )). Innovation, in this sense, is predominantly directed at finding a solution with a better performance. But, as we have learnt, in the case of the RoboCoaster, the focus was not on the details of the product or on a technical problem but on a cultural and social context. This robot delivers amusement and human emotions rather than precision and speed. Innovation of meaning, therefore, works on a higher level and with a broader scope than merely solving a technical problem. It implies stepping back

from a close focus on the problem at hand, and instead considering the overall user experience – beyond the specific interaction with a product. By reinterpreting the relationship between the product and the surrounding context, an innovation of meaning redefines the purpose of this product. The novel interpretations come when a company has the capability to see both parts – the individual events (one of which is the product at hand) and the whole, the overall user experience (which is the envisioned course of action). As a consequence, the role of external networks is very central to the interpretive process. But in contrast to the classic models of innovation, where actors in a network are considered as providers of ideas or solutions to a specific problem, in the KUKA but also the POC case, these networks provide new, different understandings of the context. For KUKA, this included first the request from an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry, later on interactions with clients and theme parks. For POC, a whole range of competencies delivered different insights, not only solutions. The network is not only providing answers but also brings possible interpretations of what could bring meaning to users. Both the KUKA and the POC cases show that radical innovations of meaning are context-dependent. It is not about designing a product, but about designing a scenario of meaning. This is something that expresses a new meaning on a detailed as well as a comprehensive level. It can take the shape of a report, but most often it comes as a form of mood board or a storyboard, tools widely used by designers. But it can also be a physical realization, such as a concept project, shown in public by a company to indicate future aspirations. Common for scenarios of meaning are that they show a blend of impressions, interpreted in a special direction. It is the identification of many different signals (the parts), melted down into one coherent message (the whole). In this sense, a scenario of meaning cannot be an internal product: it is a co-production, developed through interactions with an external network of interpreters. Lack of optimization Another major characteristic of innovations of meanings is that they cannot be optimized. They belong to an ever shifting sphere of knowledge, opinions, news and proposals and therefore can never be constant. Their nature does not fit the dominant theories that see problem solving as a process of progressive reduction of uncertainty (the earlier in the process the better (Clark and Fujimoto 1991) that assumes that there is an optimal solution out there; you just need to find it (Terwiesch and Ulrich 2009). Instead of deciding the course once and for all, the focus lies within the continuous turns within. In this process of information gathering and processing, external actors may be considered as an important source of new arguments. They express different ideas, use different voices and offer different perspectives. Interpretations therefore are combined and lead to new ones, by stressing some and abandoning others. Let us go back to the case of KUKA. It started its work with the RoboCoaster by listening to a proposal from an entrepreneur related to the amusement park business. The first product presented on the market was a standard product, adapted to the use of individuals with the help of suitable software. During the years, the company carefully listened to what the network looked for and constantly refined its product. Among other things the seat was extended to also include a top cover, equipment for laser guns (to fire at themed targets) and other special effects.


Taking a meaning Perspective


Ă–berg & Verganti

Recently, the RoboCoaster has been developed to include a 3D solution, providing the experience of a virtual rollercoaster but also experiences of avalanches, bobsleds and jet planes. Further, the concept has been incorporated as a part of interactive exhibits that combine math and science with sports activities for children. Starting from an adapted assembly robot, the RoboCoaster has ended up offering a total experience. Through an iterative development process, different actors have added new knowledge and proposals along the way, and thus helped KUKA to reinterpret the meaning of the product. The strategy has been to listen and adapt the product continuously. In short, this second characteristic suggests a new theory of innovation that, rather than focusing on convergence towards an optimal solution, is based on a continuous and iterative debate, with firms actively participating. So far, we have elaborated on the two themes of context dependence and lack of optimization. These two themes are giving new implications to the theories of innovation as a consequence of our focus on meanings and therefore on interpretation. Our discussion, however, considers a specific type of innovation of meanings: a radical change. The next two sections will illustrate characteristics that provide a useful lens to also capture the nature of radical change. Outlandishness We have seen how developing a radical change in meaning implies overcoming dominant assumptions about what a product is meant for. It implies questioning the existing socio-cultural paradigm. Recent studies on innovation have analyzed the dynamics of radical change, with a focus on a major challenge: the need to develop the new capabilities required to achieve a breakthrough. External networks are therefore considered crucial to providing access to new competencies (Chesbrough 2003). This perspective fits perfectly with the radical innovation of meanings, except that the radical new meanings are coupled with a criticism of the existing dominant socio-cultural paradigm, not an alignment with it. The importance of questioning the current picture therefore links us to the ability of building critical capabilities and to the crucial role of networks. But, instead of using external resources only as a source of complementary capabilities (that have been identified and that are currently missing), the external views could be used as a source of questioning, even criticizing the current situation. Normally, this occurs by bringing in interpreters from outside of the “usual� networks. Consider ABB Robotics and the development of the RobotStudio. When some employees suggested the company start working on software (instead of hardware) they were not exactly popular within the organization, because it meant that some of the competence in designing robots and their movements would be handed over to the clients through this new service. Still, a group of believers persisted and kept on working with the new software application. And they were not only from within the company. Significant competencies came from external partners in totally different fields than robotics, such as the software industry. And when the product was launched, it was so radical that even clients were not explicitly asking for it. When it came out, they actually felt threatened rather than thrilled! For example, car manufacturers have internal experts whose expertise is to understand how to use robots; these experts within the client organizations interpreted the simulator as a threat to their expertise and therefore to their organizational power. The whole idea looked bizarre, strange and different. Almost

outlandish. Sometimes a new radical innovation of meaning is treated with arrogance by incumbents in the industry: the RoboCoaster is not considered to be serious robotics by traditional players, but rather a marketing exercise. And the innovators, in order to resist and move on with their vision, have to reply with similar arrogance. Again, given we are not talking about optimization of a performance parameter, but about interpretations, the development of innovation of meanings pass through debates and argumentations that may be even ideological: there is no clear and unique answer, only an argumentation of an interpretation. As we see, the interpreters who enable the development of these outlandish interpretations are not customers or suppliers (who belong to the same ecosystem of a company and often share its same frame of making sense of things); rather they are players who seem alien to the business environment. Software experts did indeed look strange to robotics experts in the 1980s! This type of interpreter enables a firm to make “detours” from the current dominant interpretation, to lose itself in order to resurface in a new form, with a new perspective. Both the development of the RobotStudio application by ABB and of the RoboCoaster by KUKA has benefited by the contribution of executives who originally came from other industries than industrial robotics (indeed, the entrance of KUKA in new markets has been anticipated by a significant influx of an entire team of new young executives who were not experts of the industry). These executives could take a critical stance on the shared assumptions on the industry and pave the way for the development of breakthrough meanings. Co-generation The three described characteristics tell us that a radical change in the meaning of things hardly emerges as an answer to a clear market need. In contrast to most theories of innovation that advocate a closer look at users in order to realize innovation (especially within the realm of studies on user-centered innovation (Von Hippel 1988), design thinking (Brown 2009; Martin 2009) and crowdsourcing (Chesbrough 2003), a radical change in meaning implies a step back from current needs and proposes a new vision that still does not exist in the market (Verganti 2009). This vision, though, is not a one-man piece of work, but comes from a combined effort to see and interpret new things, involving both internal, external and “outlandish” networks. Therefore, an innovation of meaning is also co-generated. The common act of interpretation is not based on the discovery of what is already there, but on a deliberate creation of new interpretations that do not exist yet. It is not simply about generating ideas and solutions, but about creating a whole new vision and conceiving a new possibility. In fact, the RoboCoaster is an idea that is not created and kept in a vacuum. It has become the locus of a clear and forward looking strategy at KUKA: searching for new applications by redefining what a robot is. Perhaps the most evident proof of how KUKA is holistically redefining the meaning of robots is looking at the visual and experiential language of the company’s website (www.kuka-robotics. com/en/) especially as far as the new applications in the field of entertainment are concerned ( The websites show catalogues of ideas about new applications; the images are playful combinations of products creating complex shapes in the style of Arcimboldo’s vegetable portraits. In addition, KUKA collaborated with digital designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram to create an artistic installation in Trafalgar Square during the 2010 London Design


Taking a meaning Perspective


Öberg & Verganti

Festival, where the festival visitors and the global Internet community could take control over eight robots via a website by sending short text messages that were then “painted” in the air by the robots using LED lights. KUKA’s robots have also appeared in many Hollywood movies like James Bond – Die another day or The Da Vinci code. Nowadays, the company includes a whole section of specialized products for stage and event technologies usable in the film industry. The company has also been honored with a number of design awards. There is an entire radically new strategic vision behind the idea of the RoboCoaster. Whereas recent theories of innovation place a major focus on the role of users to create new solutions, the radical innovation of meanings implies the involvement of a broader range of interpreters to develop new understanding and propose new visions. Among these interpreters, the most relevant individuals are the top executives of firms. Our research shows that radical innovation of meaning, a proposal of a new radical purpose, implies direct involvement of these top executives in the team of interpreters. Indeed, interpretations cannot be outsourced. Executives cannot ask others to listen to outside interpreters. They have to be part of the design team themselves to interiorize the new interpretation. A vision is something that is never brought on a golden tray: it requires interior action. To be continued… The four proposed characteristics of innovation of meaning add to the emerging literature on market creations, e.g. studies that new markets (and new innovations) come from a co-construction of understanding (Santos and Eisenhardt 2009) in a network where both entrepreneurs but also stakeholders take an active part (Sarasvathy and Dew 2005). In addition, the overall contribution of this text has been to try to illustrate what an innovation of meaning can be – and what the nature of this meaning could be. Nevertheless, we are still striving to understand the processes that lie beneath the actions that we have observed in the cases we have studied, and we hope to expand and further explore this peculiar type of innovation in our upcoming research. However, this can only be accomplished by a vivid and ongoing discussion among peers and outlandish people, in known and unknown waters, among visionaries and critics, embracing open minds as well as closed ones.

References Abell, D. F. 1980. Defining the Business: The starting point of Strategic Planning. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall International. Ansoff, H. I. 1965. Corporate Strategy. New York, McGraw-Hill. Bijker, W. E. and J. Law, eds. 1994. Shaping Technology / Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press. Brown, T. 2009. Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York, Harper Collins. Burgelman, R., M. A. Maidique, et al. 2004. Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation. New York, Mc-Graw-Hill. Chesbrough, H. W. 2003. Open innovation: The New imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press. Clark, K. B. 1985. The interaction of design hierarchies and market concepts in technological evolution. Research Policy 14, 5 October. Clark, K. B. and T. Fujimoto 1991. Product Development Performance. Cambridge, MA, Harvard Business School Press. Heskett, J. 1985. Industrial Design. London, Thames and Hudson. Kim, W. C. and R. Mauborgne 2005. Blue Ocean Strategy. Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press. Krippendorff, K. 1989. On the Essential Contexts of Artifacts or on the Proposition that “design is Making Sense (of Things)” Design Issues 5, no. 2, Spring, pp. 9–38. Latour, B. 1987. Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society.


Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Martin, R. 2009. The design of business: Why design thinking is the next competitive advantage. Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Publishing. McGrath, R. and J. MacMillan 2009. Discovery Driven Innovation Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press. Moon, Y. 2010. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd, Crown Business. Pahl, G. and W. Beitz 1988. Engineering Design: A systematic approach, Springer. Santos, F. M. and K. M. Eisenhardt 2009. Constructing markets and shaping boundaries: entrepreneurial power in nascent fields. Academy of Management Journal 52, 4, pp. 643–671. Sarasvathy, S., D. and N. Dew 2005. New market creation through transformation. Journal of Evolutionary Economics 15, pp. 533–565. Schumpeter, J. A. 1934. The Theory of Economic Development. Cambridge, Harvard College. Teece, D., G. Pisano, et al. 1997. Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management. Strategic Management Journal 18, No. 7, pp. 509–533. Terwiesch, C. and K. Ulrich 2009. Innovation Tournaments: Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities. Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press. Verganti, R. 2009. Design-Driven Innovation – Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating what Things Mean. Boston, MA, Harvard Business Press. Von Hippel, E. 1988. The Sources of Innovation. New York, Oxford University Press. Wernerfelt, B. 1984. A resource-based view of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 5, pp. 171–180. Taking a meaning Perspective

37 Wetter Edman, K. 2014. Design for Service: A framework for exploring designers’ contribution as interpreter of users’ experience Gothenburg, University of Gothenburg, ArtMonitor Doctoral Dissertations and Licentiate Theses.

Öberg & Verganti

2 38

Running Head


Running Head

The paradoxical road to innovation — The role of creative design



The paradoxical road to innovation —  The role of  creative design Birgit Helene Jevnaker, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo

“How and why do the encounters of design and management play a role in the creation of new business opportunities? In this chapter, we contend that innovation needs to be expanded; design, entrepreneurship, and collaborative business networking can become linked and leveraged in particular innovation practices. The chapter delineates the equivocal role of design as part of innovation and enterprise grounded in literature and real-world practices. Drawing on field interviews with both outstanding designers and managers in innovating organizations, our findings show that creative design offers not merely ideas or appearance; it can offer profound and recurrent presences and interactivity between development and commercialization processes. In the exemplary cases, design and enterprise encounters led to new explorative perspectives and tangible tools for innovation that created new approaches and conceptual meanings for the actors and enterprise networks. Designers as well as managers also experienced weaknesses, emergent strengths, and “creative breakings,” which could foster or hinder processes of innovation. On this background, we point to and discuss some key positive Paradoxes of design innovation that help us draw learning implications for practice and knowledge-building.”

1. Introduction Sustaining something new is by definition difficult. Much can happen on the long and winding road towards innovation. One interesting angle to the often prevailing gaps between ideas, needs, and business opportunities is to take a critical look at the design challenges and design relations of innovating enterprises.

Why examine design? According to Nobel Laureate economist Herbert Simon (1969), design is fundamental across many generative disciplines devising “what might be.” In this chapter, we expand on this thinking by turning to how design workings are both shaping and stabilizing innovation. We take an action-based perspective on creating capabilities: how can design enhance not only outcomes but also what innovators can and will do? Grounded in exemplary cases, we identify and discuss key approaches as well as some weaknesses in how creative design and enterprise relations were developed. Key paradoxes in the encounter between designers and enterprises are highlighted and discussed in a new framework, which we then use to tease out some learning implications. The chapter seeks to contribute to a new understanding of managing by and for creative design as unfolding in real-world business innovation practices and design relations. Outline. The chapter is built up as follows: first, we give a brief overview of the new frontiers of innovation management and design. Second, we delineate the equivocal role of design. If design can go in many directions, what does this mean for innovation? How can innovators and enterprises actually cope with the varieties of design creation approaches? Third, we explore this issue by providing two case examples. The short stories (case vignettes) are drawn from field research on innovating practices to illustrate the role of creative design. Fourth, we synthesize and discuss three key positive paradoxes that emerged in the interfaces of creative, industrial design and innovation. Finally, we point to some lessons learned and useful heuristics to deal with design innovation in real-world practices. 2. Innovation frontiers: why turn to design? In principle, innovation happens everywhere. But in practice it appears skewed: some companies and networks of actors do it more and possibly better than others (Nås et al., 1994; Saxenian, 1994/1996). If innovation is about introducing something new into the economy and people’s lives and then realize these innovations, often by new combinations that tend to meet resistance (Schumpeter, 1934), it is rewarding to look into how something new is actually configured and carried through. A few companies that currently affect the frontiers of innovation such as Samsung and Apple have benefitted from combining their business and technical capabilities with many, many years of industrial designing (Moggridge, 2007; Buxton, 2007) – or what we may call multi-intelligent creative design work. What is that actually? Design in and beyond innovation For a start, we suggest that creative design—whether made by specialists or selftrained individuals—is the artful configuring or Gestaltung of something at least in part man-made. At the frontiers of innovation, interdisciplinary teams are designing interactions through and for multiple media (Moggridge, 2010), whether building a community of friends, doing situation-specific searches, or making a picture-based time line. This involves signaling to both our feelings and our reasoning thus giving sense—or no-sense—to situations which seem to be less understood. Design is as old as man, so how does this connect to innovation? As Michael Bierut (2007) pinpoints, design tends to be increasingly talked about in connection with innovation, but design is not the same as innovation. Although designing can


The Paradoxical road to innovation



generate the new, designing is also about heritage, craft, redesigning or refining what is or might exist. In today’s tough competition and multicultural societies, design relates to innovation in at least three important ways:

First, design is necessary, whether professionally or amateurishly done or both; you cannot avoid designing when conceiving, configuring, communicating, delivering or probing something new or renewed. Second, it is possible to design, in fact, it can be done more frequently and in many more ways than before in the history of man. The human-built world entails numerous tools and affordances, which can help configure and symbolize something new. But an abundance of tools can also do harm to people, nature, or man-made surroundings on a scale and scope new to the world. New highly advanced industrial and digitized techniques for complex industrial designing and rapid prototyping have emerged (Capjon, 2004). Third, expanded ways of designing are already happening and encompass both new and old means and media (Buxton, 2007; Moggridge, 2007, 2010). But why are creatively expanding design approaches with roots for example in industrial and interaction design of interest now?

Whether we notice it or not, design changes are all around us – from ongoing updates in the grocery stores, to new transportation systems or new versions of Facebook. In the wake of the late second and third industrial revolutions, the latter from around 1970 or even before, several new technological paradigms including shifting IT systems and a plethora of digital community systems have emerged. The outreach and pace of technological changes accelerate complexities while also invoking many new opportunities (Perez, 2002). Yet pressures and capabilities for “creative deconstructions” (Schumpeter, 1934)—doing things in new ways that replace, deconstruct, or diminish the role of the old ones—may be less than perfect. Despite much talk, companies, regulating bodies, entrepreneurs and other organizing actors have problems realizing valuable innovations (Christensen et al., 1997; Fagerberg et al., 2005). Also, in real-world organizations, existing as well as radically new things, systems, or processes may not be so well made or fit for humans to use (Norman, 1988). New machines, services, or tools can in fact be misfits; strange, inappropriate, or difficult to handle in the beginning. Think about the first heavy cell phones, the difficult-to-navigate video recorders, or electronic channels for reporting on your economic life, which may not be scalable or robust. At the frontiers of much innovation, teams are faced with what has been called “wicked problems” (see e.g., Cross, 2011) This term points to ill-defined problems as well as incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. As suggested by Nokia usability researchers Lindholm, Keinonen, and Kiljander (2003), subjective measures of satisfaction are not enough to correct failures, because these measures ignore that “there are many inefficient, relatively inaccurate systems with which users are extremely satisfied.” Examples, they suggest, are gaming, mobile phones, websites, electronic banking to name a few. Although opportunities for redesigning offerings or business models abound, there seems to be value/action gaps (Jevnaker, 2003c): Innovation is often charged with positive meanings; yet concerted and skilled approaches for

designing innovations may be neglected. For example, few managers seem to know industrial design methods or key emergent transdisciplinary areas such as for example “UX.” (In fact no one in a recent 2012 executive class I taught in Oslo on developing new leadership knew what “UX” is.) UX is user experience, and some highly skilled specialists are devoting their work-life to exploring this phenomenon. On this limited or skewed knowledge background, highly transdisciplinary design and innovation agencies have emerged. For example IDEO, a global design consulting firm located in California, London, Boston, New York, Chicago, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore, and other cities, seeks to help organizations innovate, e.g. by “developing capabilities.” (, accessed 20 March 2012). To help others innovate can be both fascinating and challenging. Experienced innovators and designers know it is insufficient to merely come up with new ideas or research-based inventions. To innovate, you need to find ways and execute, but how? Absorbing new expertise for innovation is more easily said than done. What can real-world encounters between industrial designers and enterprises foster on the road towards something new? We will draw on selective examples from diverse industries to illuminate what can happen in practice and how further opportunities can be created. 3. Design at work in innovation: what is it actually? Both new and complex design work seeks expertise and assistance beyond company borders (Bruce and Jevnaker, 1998; Dell’Era and Verganti, 2010). Design encompasses multiple existing and new professions and specialist areas – from engineering design and software information architecture to what has, for simplification, been labeled “creative design” fields (though all designing can involve creativity). Here we particularly focus on creative design: In some work areas and vocations, high creativity demand is a constant, due to highly complex, high-touch and non-routine, expert-aided solution generation often tailor-made for particular situations and client organizations. This unfolds for example in architecture, communication and web design, and in industrial and interaction design (see e.g., Schön, 1988; Lawson and Dorst, 2009; Moggridge, 2007). Another emergent area to consider in relation to innovation is what has been coined “managing as designing” by academic promoters Boland and Collopy, who became inspired when their university hired the architect Frank Gehry to design a new building. Management by design seeks to open up “new horizons for the practice of management and presents guiding images for the future” (Boland and Collopy, 2004, p. xi). This transcends the conventional topics of business management and its literature (also Dumas, 1993; Svengren, 1995).


The Paradoxical road to innovation

Figure 2.1 Tom Kelley, Ideo, shows the inspirational “tech box” used in the design consultancy on the author’s visit to the Palo Alto office, 31.03.2009 Photo credit B. H. Jevnaker



For example, contrary to certain beliefs, design can go beyond what is a priori specified or planned. Grounded in field studies, we will turn to design and designing also as emergence and deviant action. Here we are on an interesting crossroads between “creative design” and “managing as design.” Both fields of interest have many overlapping potentials as well as challenges; for example, illdefined problems or qualities that can go in many directions but can be hard to preconceive or articulate. To deal with emergent situations, ambiguous directions, and complex choices, the parties can engage in collaborations. Based in literature and real-world cases, we explore in particular the role of creative, industrial design and how relationships between expert designers and business enterprises can actually foster dynamic design/innovation practices in and between enterprises. To better understand this issue, it is fruitful to think about both the actualities and possibilities for design innovation; the rest of this chapter is dedicated to this pursuit. Design at work in innovation Although our understanding of real-world design practices seems to be lagging and even misconceived (Dumas, 1993; Verganti, 2009), innovating is more chaotic and less “linear” than previously outlined (Van de Ven et al., 1999). How can design work for innovation? For a start, we may distinguish between design as inputs, throughputs and outputs, as well as creating processes and practices. These may constitute virtuous (or vicious) dynamics over situations, locations, and time such as what was happening when for example the first ThinkPad laptops were generated and improved by creative design and engineering teams across three continents. As Sakakibara (1998) wrote:

“The ThinkPad is a sort of “tradition-breaking” product that came into existence when IBM realized that its “traditional” approach to new product development was less effective for the PC business.”

As this product design case revealed, innovating is often fostered and led by more than one creative contributor or type of expertise: in this case, it included Richard Sapper, the German-born, Milan-based industrial consultant; Kazuhiko Yamazaki, who led the design & engineering team at IBM’s Yamato Design Centre outside Tokyo; and Thomas Hardy, head of IBM’s corporate design – who was coordinating and taking new design managerial initiatives on a world-wide basis. In order to learn, I asked Hardy to reflect in retrospect: When designing something new in industrial design work, what did (sometimes) help, when you were personally involved in it? The Think Pad, for instance, how did it happen? Hardy (2008) summarized the following points in his response to me:

“(1) recognizing unmet needs, (2) pursuing situations that required taking risks, (3) gathering as much relevant information as possible to ensure that each risk was a well-informed one, (4) understanding ‘how far to put your foot over the line...without getting it chopped off.’ ”

It is worth noticing how this infers something paradoxical: To draw the line you put your foot over the line… We will come back to this boundary-setting paradox later. For now, I will just point to the co-creation efforts: Designing the original

ThinkPad was hard work and required close triad international collaboration among specialists across the United States, Japan and Europe. Also, the design management roles were multifaceted. For example, Richard Sapper, the design consultant, was not merely advising from the outside. Rather, he “worked directly with the corporate design staff led by Hardy. Based in Connecticut, Hardy and his staff coordinated 15 design centers around the world.” Communication “among the three major contributors occurred almost every day” in the development process (Sakakibara, 1998, pp. 96, 98). When designing this complex creation that would have to stand out in world competition, frequent direct interactions across borders were vital. In this case, the teams worked on multiple aspects including size, materials, a large screen, a new pointing device (TrackPoint), a color display, etc. while “attention was being paid to everything the user would see and touch” (Sakakibara, op.cit., p. 94, 99). It is worth noting that design in such design/business situations involves not only “formulating” plans or solutions, as some people may think. Creative design is also at work figuring out, probing, and interpreting solutions in possible aesthetic ways. The ThinkPad laptop was, for example, conceived to appear clean and simple like a Japanese lunch box, and when opening it, good and attractive things could be displayed colorfully. “It is a simple idea, but it was difficult to design,” said Sapper (Sakakibara, 1998, p. 95). Considering the challenges, it seems crucial that in creative design you engage and work continually on “what could be” in both imaginative and detailed ways. This includes paying attention to how it can be made, for whom, where and when, for what experience level, how much it would cost, why and for what further uses it was being developed (Farstad and Jevnaker, 2010). What you actually do when you are engaged in creative designing can, however, be quite diffuse seen from a layman’s perspective. As early sketching on a napkin illustrates, designing can be both illuminating and explorative trying to take into consideration many concerns and possibilities simultaneously. As a possibly synthesizing action, designing can be highly valuable but perhaps difficult to capture. This makes creative designing an important but challenging field even for the specialists (see for example Cross, 2011). Also, innovation and design are among those phenomena that are hard to define, but you may know it when you see it! The recent, almost infectious spread of iPads, designed and marketed by Apple Inc., is an example of being capable of both designing and distributing something new and valuable. Although tablets are not entirely new, iPads are designed combinations already adopted by many users. Compared to the heavy-weight first NMT cell phones, the new smart communicating devices are designed for people on the move, knowledge-workers and digital citizens. As a tablet computer falling in between laptop computers and smartphones in terms of weight, size, and affordances, iPads can interact quickly with these other devices and the Internet even when the user is moving around. Norway’s former Prime Minister (Jens Stoltenberg) e.g. found it highly useful to become an active iPad-user early on. Whether material or immaterial, the ingredients and elements in innovations often need to be combined in beneficial ways for humans, but how? To understand more of what actually happens as well as what might be missing, we shall zoom in on creative design as a highly potent but often misconceived part of innovation.


The Paradoxical road to innovation



4. Understanding the equivocal role of design In conducting this inquiry into design as fundamental for innovation, I suggest we start from the notion that creative designing is equivocal. Then we shall turn to expertise and assistance in coping with design. Equivocality means that situations, actions, and solutions can be interpreted in more than one direction. This quality is part of enacting variations and change more generally – whether new or not. Being open to more than one direction is especially important for innovating enterprises and managers, because innovation tends to involve diverse inputs, setbacks, and non-linear developments (see e.g., Van de Ven et al., 1999). Equivocal comes from Late Latin, [aequivocus], where vocare actually means to call. The term “equivocality” (noun) means the possibility of at least two meanings, or as an adjective it means having a variety of interpretations. It also relates to a possible double meaning of ‘to call’ and ‘a calling.’ Both meanings (to call and a calling) are of interest for enabling and sustaining innovation, but how? The term “equivocal” as used here is inspired by the organizational psychologist Karl Weick’s thinking that equivocality should be expected when we engage in daily sensemaking in organizations. For example, he contends that

“… the inability of people in organizations to tolerate equivocal processing may well be one of the most important reasons why they have trouble. It is their unwillingness to meet equivocality in an equivocal manner that produces failure, nonadaptation, autism, isolation from reality, psychological cost, and so on. It is the unwillingness to disrupt order, ironically, that makes it impossible for the organization to create order” (Weick, 1969/1979, p. 189).

Nurturing the equivocality aspect in a simple form is perhaps easier to grasp if we look over the shoulder of industrial design students when in class sketching their early solutions from a common brief, for example, for a new bicycle. Although it is a familiar product category, student designers may engage in many different interpretive directions and also tweak existing options, as I have often seen in design classes. Design teachers can also help to discover new routes (Schön, 1987), which is not surprising. “The capacity to see a new solution to an existing problem is what a designer does,” contend design connoisseurs Bayley and Conran (2007, p. 11). As we shall see, intelligent designing may open up for alternative ideas, routes and solutions provided something different is allowed to emerge. Here is an example: The Oslo-based industrial design firm Abry was commissioned to design a new flashlight for professional users, but when a model of the new flashlight Merlin was first shown to customers, it turned out that they preferred a different exterior material (plastic), a need which became articulated through the early design exposure. Taking this feedback seriously, the new flashlight was redesigned according to the targeted customers’ needs and wants, which seemed significant in light of the fact that most new products and services actually fail (Urban and Hauser, 1993). Past research suggests that the more complex, incompatible or radical the innovation is, the more challenging the diffusion and translation of something new might become. As the American communication researcher Everett Rogers

(1962) noticed early on, adoption of something radically new among users tends to be slow in the beginning. (Rogers was the son of an Ohio farmer, and he could not understand that his father did not adopt new equipment for improving farming techniques.) The slow adoption can be comfortable for the individual manager feeling the risk of something new. But it can become detrimental for the innovating enterprise when speed and agile movements are necessary to succeed in highly time-compressed, internationalized business competitions. For example, in Asian enterprises development times may be three to six months or less for a new consumer product. Indeed, for fast-moving global competition, changes can happen overnight, which may be difficult to absorb. In various enterprise situations, both the particular inputs or processes, and deliverables of creative design may be of interest for innovators, because they can foster the qualities Rogers suggested would help innovation. We will use Rogers’ principles for innovation-diffusion to introduce some ways in which creative design can foster or hinder further innovation (see Figure 2.2). The tablet example illustrates several ways to differentiate and communicate new offerings. It also points to contemporary innovation not as stand-alone products but rather as platforms, in this case for audio-visual and social media, music, games, books, periodicals, movies, apps and web content. The tablets show that even in a service society people continue to use and live with many physical and/or digital touch points. Indeed, we spend much time using our eyes, fingers, gestures, or whole bodies dealing with our laptops or other devices. In this respect, Rogers’ principles are useful not only for spreading finished innovations, but up front in managing their generation. Making something “real” and trialable early on can be of critical importance for innovators and entrepreneurs. Interestingly, rapid design probing can take place even before specifications have been formulated or are possible to formulate, as e.g. the company Frog and others currently suggest. Why? Here are a few reasons among the many that can be listed:

First, creative design can help create a different look, and find and frame (or reframe) problems and problem settings, as well as capture overlooked needs, wants, and annoyances in situations. In short, design work can help sense new or overlooked opportunities. This means that neither problems nor options and preferences can be taken for granted. Second, creative design can help conceive and gestalt something in new directions, make it “real” or even “fake it,” in order to see what could be or what might exist. What is important to understand is how dealing with design in an equivocal manner can help others to see what they did not think of initially. Rough modeling can help to discover both new options and preferences.

For example, as Livework designer Lavrans Løvlie (2008) narrated, they once quickly imagined and designed a not-yet-existing service that was first presented as a “real” competitive solution. This moved the whole creating situation—also opening up for new directions—when working with this client, according to the design consultant.


The Paradoxical road to innovation




Explanations & tips

Examples – from design of tablets

Relative advantage

Can convince, e.g. by show & tell, how something new provides benefits to users and interests relative to past solutions

Kindle: Read in bright sunlight with no glare iPad: offering a broad platform and link to hub Samsung Galaxy: small enough to be put in a pocket


Can show how the new can be incorporated into the lives of the users. Creative design can help show many affordances across boundaries

iPad: compatible with mail systems, apps, Internet, music stores, photo systems, cloud computing , etc.


Can build in and communicate complexity in a simplified, potentially attractive manner that appeals to emotions

iPad: fun and easy to use for the non-technical user, reuse of graphical icons


Can try out and probe solutions (testing, touching, inspecting, etc.)

Several brands offer access to try out & experiment with the new, as it is adopted or before, via developers & interest networks (e.g., Android), & particular stores (e.g., Apple stores), etc.


Can observe how something works in practice

Multimedia & live demonstrations used by most brands

Third, design includes correcting and refining something into a hopefully new or better experience, but it can, of course, also turn out to be the opposite (cf. Norman, 1988). Whether caused by deliberate or emergent aspects, design can be ruined by challenging whole/part dynamics. This is why experienced designers say the devil is in the details, which can refer to myriads of aspects—of materials, forms, content, good or bad arrangements, (mis)placements, (mis)communication, or (loss of) signs for something— that can easily emerge. Fourth, creative designing can involve divergent trials as well as back-andforth work (iteration), which can help see new directions. Innovative design may beneficially include rapid experimentation or trial-and-error (Capjon, 2004), as well as probing and learning how something works in practice (Leonard-Barton, 1995).

Figure 2.2 Principles to enhance innovation execution and diffusion by design Source Based on Rogers (1962/2003), explanations expanded from Farstad and Jevnaker (2010, p. 28). Examples are new

In short, the equivocal notion of design can help us understand the richness and multiple significances of design action. When engaging in creative design, working in more than one direction—although not all equally promising—is both an inherent possibility and an actuality. This goes for both design work and creative management. Designers may share with managers the experiences of enacting, rather than just reacting to something. To be able to come up with smart alternative ideas or interpretations, somewhat uncommon or unconventional doings may be rewarding for innovation experimentation and realization, as we shall see in the following. How is this equivocal role of design unfolding in good ways in practice? 5. Devising the new in practice: tales from the field In this section, we will visit some more real-world cases. Grounded in field studies including interviews with designers and company managers, we explore how practitioners approached and worked with design innovation. Case vignettes on innovating sitting and novel recycling initiatives respectively can help illustrate the role of creative industrial design. (For elaboration on the material, see research publications in the references). 5.1 Moving the art of sitting If the world is a stage, “the chair is the minimal daily prop,” design writer Ralph Caplan suggests (2005, p. 82). As a curious basic artifact, which has nothing to do with survival needs, the chair continues to affect our language (e.g., chairperson) as well as our daily work and leisure environment. How is it possible to design for good functional as well as social sitting? Although many designers have sought to make their fame from yet another new chair design, the chair as an element in human interaction is relatively unstudied (Caplan, 2005). This underexplored situation triggered the designer Peter Opsvik. He was educated and experimented in furniture design and had also worked as an industrial designer (in Tandberg radio factory). After he had his first child, he thought of ways to adapt a child’s chair to fit on to the family’s dining table in an upright position; it should also be adjustable for when the child grew older. The first Tripp Trapp high chair, designed by Opsvik, was sold to the Norwegian company STOKKE, who then adopted and launched it. Although not always understood by the sales persons, it eventually became a best-seller for the company as well as for the design company. Forty years later, what is called “a revolutionary chair that grows with the children” has become a breadwinning core product for STOKKE. Peter Opsvik also took part in a series of prototyping experiments in relation to what was eventually called the balans design group. With two other designers and one inventor (Hans Christian Mengshoel), and in collaboration with a few associated companies, they were exploring and propagating “alternative sitting.” Ten highly unconventional prototypes were exhibited in Copenhagen and elsewhere. Some models including Opsvik’s Variable balans chair attracted quite a lot of attention also internationally. Peter Opsvik’s studio has also worked for another company, HÅG, which later became a brand of Scandinavian Business Seating. Among the innovative chairs he designed for and with HÅG was Credo. Credo was the first work chair to feature “free movement” from an active posture with a forward-tilted chair


The Paradoxical road to innovation



body, to a reclined posture with a backwardtilted chair body, according to Opsvik (2008). Both the body’s balance and the feet regulate the tilting movement. A core element was what is not visible: a seat plate that slides forwards and backwards to regulate seat depth – a principle introduced in the HÅG 2010 chair in 1975 (Opsvik, 2008, p. 79). Most of the chairs Opsvik developed for HÅG build on this tilting concept. Another product innovation is the saddle chair, later called HÅG Capisco. This chair is based on a metaphor “the rider on a horse” used in the early experiments with alternative sitting, i.e. learning from the first long-term sitters. What users of Variable balans, Capisco and Tripp Trapp may not fully realize is that these different design experiments fostered continued thinking and experimentation among designers and a few companies that have contributed to a crucial reframing of the concept of sitting (see Opsvik, 2008; also Crantz, 1998). The new, divergent design approaches eventually fostered an entirely new focus for the SMEs involved. From being mainly a traditional furniture-maker serving domestic markets, STOKKE, for example, has become an internationally well-respected specialist firm serving children’s needs. Both companies HÅG and STOKKE became fundamentally transformed (Jevnaker, 1995b, 2012). 5.2 Helping the world to recycle TOMRA was founded on an innovation made in 1972 that began with two entrepreneurial brothers, called Tore and Petter Planke, and their wider team of family and business contacts helping them see and seize opportunities in what others at that time saw as mere problems: the increasing quantity of empty drinking bottles accumulating in retail shops and other outlets selling beverages. Empty bottles were also, of course, adding to the garbage problem of most households, a daily nuisance. How did an enterprise for this growing problem emerge? The brothers were, in fact, looking for new opportunities, as one of them, Tore Planke, said in a research interview (Planke, 1994). When his brother, a business man, was working actively on dissemination of the barcode system in close contact with many retailers and their associations, and seeing for himself this huge problem when visiting retailers, the idea of dealing with the empty bottle problem in a smarter way emerged. Petter Planke called his brother, then a cybernetics scientist at the Technical College in Trondheim, and told him straight away that “now we have something!” The brothers together with family and close contacts reconfigured this retail garbage problem as a business innovation opportunity for reverse vending of (empty) bottles. Tore Planke, the technically well-educated of the brothers, constructed the first machine for this purpose in a cybernetics college lab in Trondheim. This reverse vending machine, the first in a series of many new ones

Figure 2.3 (top) Variable balans. Design: Peter Opsvik, balans concept: Hans Chr. Mengshoel. Licensee/ Distribution: Stokke (1979-2006), Varier from 2006 Photo credit Peter Opsvik AS Figure 2.4 (bottom) HÅG Capisco Puls is a flexible, environmentally friendly office chair allowing movement and variation while seated. Design: Peter Opsvik AS Photo credit Per Gunnarsson www.pgfotograf. com & HÅG/SBS

configured, became a key part of what became the first-in-the-world system for automated recognition and handling of empty bottles. The original business idea included the possibility of a deposit—the right to get some money back—when recycling an empty bottle. The first bottle return machines were mainly conceived from a combined business and engineering perspective. Yet, the brothers became aware—seeing what happened with vending machines abroad—that design might help improve the company’s further development of the machines. They first worked with one designer, “to clean up a former model,” said Tore Planke (1994). Then, in the early 1980s, after some contacts with a design milieu in Oslo (Norwegian Design Council), TOMRA started to use a professional design agency (Tvengsberg) in its research and product development. A design consultant, Roy H. Tandberg, who at the time worked for Tvengsberg – became involved and became a designer for TOMRA. One of the company’s first breakthroughs was a product for a Swedish customer who had ordered 2000 CAN-CAN machines for recycling used cans. Tandberg was part of the TOMRA team that developed this machine in only six months. After a while, the Planke brothers asked Roy Tandberg, “Why don’t you move over here?!” That fostered TOMRA’s long-term working relationship with this industrial designer, who later (January 2002) was awarded the highest design award in Norway, the Jacob prize. Roy Tandberg had an unusual, boundary-spanning position, working part-time for TOMRA and the rest of the time as a free-lance designer for other companies. He became a creative contributor to “almost all” subsequent reverse vending machines for several decades and gained a kind of veto power in industrial design machine matters. He thus acquired a relatively free position although working closely and long term with many shifting high-skilled research and development engineering teams. Tandberg took several creative initiatives such as adopting a new plastic material (PUR), and building a module-based product system that could foster rapid customizations. He was also experimenting with ideas for new machines and for whole recycling systems and environments. Later, a younger designer, Silje Sandahl, has continued this highly equivocal and co-creating role of industrial design for this company. To make a long story short, the Planke brothers’ first embryonic idea and prototype was converted into more robust concepts for recycling-oriented industrial enterprises. TOMRA has since been working in the recycling innovation business worldwide based on new combinations of design, manufacturing and sale of reverse vending machines (RVMs) for automated collection of used beverage containers. Today TOMRA has installations in over 80 markets worldwide and had total revenues


The Paradoxical road to innovation

Figure 2.5 Tomra invented the first system for automatic recognition of container types. This is their reverse vending system for deposit return for recycled beverage containers Photo credit Tomra Systems



of ~4.6 billion NOK in 2013 (1 USD = approx 6 NOK). TOMRA has approximately 2,500 employees and is publicly listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The TOMRA Group continues to innovate and provide cutting-edge solutions for resource productivity within two main business areas: Collection Solutions (reverse vending, material recovery and compaction industries) and Sorting Solutions (recycling, mining and food processing industries). TOMRA (2012) “proactively supports the increasing need for sustainable resource management.” It is worth noting how up-front design work helps create new opportunities, in the words of Silje Sandahl, the company’s current in-house industrial designer: Designer: Just now I am planning a…, we shall have a prototype, a very early one. How shall I say it, more like a sketch to a new design, to be used in the “Sales arena” – where a number of sales people come from the whole world. [It’s] a way to show something new and create some stir, and so forth. Interviewer: It is a machine that does not exist? Designer: Hm. Interviewer: Right. That is exciting. Designer: So, it is the prelude to a project, you may say.

6. Enabling design innovation: key positive paradoxes With fascinating, creative fields like design, it may be tempting to label or “understand” design, or its subfield, industrial design, after only a brief acquaintance. In order to counter that tendency, I engaged in a sustained open inquiry, and took part in a variety of reflexive efforts (or they chose me) when I was on the road talking about design (see Jevnaker, 1995b, 2003b, 2003c, 2012). It was crucial to stay in this open inquiring mode because design/business relations appeared to be in constant motion. As pinpointed by Becker (1986: 132), “scholars know that the subjects they write about involve so much that ought to be considered, so many connections between so many elements …that it seems inconceivable that it can be given a rational order.” Becker adds; “But that’s our business: to arrange ideas in as rational an order as possible so that another person can make sense of them.” In the present study of some particular industrial designers at work with enterprises such as TOMRA, STOKKE, and HÅG respectively, three interpretative challenges recurrently emerged:

First, design-creation as narrated from the enterprises was not following merely a priori strategies or bookish plans. Rather, design work was already in motion in extra-organizational efforts, which were crossing disciplinary and organizational boundaries. Second, real-world design/business collaboration apparently fostered new beginnings in somewhat deviant ways, i.e., deviant from both the particular corporate traditions and from other consultants’ common approaches. Third, among various options sketched in design a few gradually became realized as “something more.” It is worth noticing that these valuable ones were nourished from several design innovation-oriented efforts.

HÅG’s Sideways chair, designed by Formel with Scandinavian Business Seating and launched in 2008, can serve as one example. Although introducing something

Aspects of industrial design in action

Positive paradoxes


Bringing in new ideas and design approaches.

New “wild” ideas could lead to beneficial exploitation.

Transform, test, and narrow down ideas, giving form, content, and identity/character, put in system, etc.

Projecting and concept development through multiple activities.

Creation in partly secret, partly extended relationships could open up for something new.

Develop and make visible new conceptions in both shielded and open zones.

Recurrent crossover work.

Few talents could depend on many competent ones.

Draw on/ground ideas in organizations for realizing.

Design/boundary work.

Paradoxical collaborative action.

Converting potentialities into actualities, and vice versa.

new (the ability to wriggle around) in a meeting-room chair, it was inspired to a large extent by past design approaches and design/business philosophizing (a background we shall come back to later on). How do we interpret the evolution of extra-organizational work, including the deviant thinking and doing that unfolded in the transition from old ways to new ways of doing things? I eventually sorted out this confusing “pattern,” as the following three themes: (1) design/business boundary work, (2) a paradoxical collaborative action, and (3) design/business sustaining endeavors even in an ad hoc design business. In fact, these themes can be related to at least three positive paradoxes, which seemed to help create and raise new expectations. A brief outline follows in Figure 2.6 above. Design/business boundary work Working in the crossroads of something new and something existing offers both possibilities and constraints, neither of which can be considered as given. Three points can be made. First, the ability to bring in something new and realizable is critical for innovation, but how is that achieved? Take the case of innovating sitting: Industrial designing at Scandinavian Business Seating involved both new and longterm creative efforts – working both with new design groups such as Formel and Kode designers and reusing past creation efforts and insights from over 30 years of collaborating with Peter Opsvik’s studio as well as other designer agencies. Working across organizational and disciplinary boundaries, the new engagements led to problem-reframing and many attractive solutions. The point was no longer to “sit straight” or mainly according to status, but rather to foster balance, variation, and lots of movements while seated; which could be regarded as opposing aspects or somewhat strange views for traditional chair makers. The new ideas and experiments could appear “wild” but aimed at improving ordinary life situations, and several new concepts were implemented. Models and interpretations were noticed internationally (also Cranz, 1998), some of which


The Paradoxical road to innovation

Figure 2.6 Aspects identified from new design approaches in established organizations Source Based on research and discussion elaborated in Jevnaker (1995b, 2003b)



eventually became sustained innovations and sales successes (see Jevnaker, 1995b, 2012). It is a positive paradox then that new “wild” ideas can lead to beneficial exploitation. Interestingly, the actors have explored and exploited experiments and insights into both new and old habitual ways of sitting. Second, projecting and concept development unfolded through multiple activities. Design was not limited to configuring, projecting, and correcting a familiar object, service, or environment. Interviews with the particular designers show that creative design teams can and do work on what to actually make, how to do it, and for what purposes. Both designers and some managers actually seemed to play around with ideas, models, and perspectives to imagine, try, or learn about ‘wild’ ideas, in order to invent something new, attractive and appropriate for others. Eventually, this may lead to a convergence into something valuable, as in the case of the HÅG brand, which was inspired by a company-supported room for playful design or what was called Studio HÅG. Third, industrial design in the cases explored became recurrent crossover work over numerous organizational and mental boundaries. Thinking about for example the corporate customers as users, some of the corporate design developers I interviewed saw this extended user as a challenge because business customers tended to think more about immediate comfort issues (and price) rather than long-term sitting. Nonetheless, the new more dynamic ergonomic thinking has become an inspiration for further serious and playful innovation. Working back and forth with numerous design sketches and models helped advance new ideas, both designers and managers confirmed. The continued creative, industrial design innovation efforts in relation to children’s and parents’ active lives were described by for example Tore Mortvedt (2011), who has recently served as in-house designer at STOKKE. Tore pointed to both already existing similarities and further work towards common lines. STOKKE products from the Tripp Trapp children’s high-chair to the complex Xplory Stroller, and also the newly launched Bounce ‘n’ Sleep, were all “catering to the need to be close to the child, bonding, and so forth.” He added, “So the philosophy is the same, but execution in function and what it looks like can be different.” Paradoxical collaborative action Working closely and recurrently with “independent” designers in strategically important areas both in-house and across several customers, suppliers and knowledge networks may seem paradoxical to common thinking. Experimenting with uncommon, somewhat wild ideas may seem even more so. However, innovations in the way people sit suggest that it can be rewarding to both “go far out” and also work persistently and creatively together to execute

Figure 2.7 HÅG Sideways chair. Design: Formel Industridesign and HÅG Photo credit Scandinavian Business Seating

something different and better. For example, the inventive designer Peter Opsvik and his studio of designers were already experimenting with a variety of sitting solutions such as allowing what Opsvik called “foot-governance” when he was repeatedly contacted by the office-chair enterprise HÅG, now part of Scandinavian Business Seating. In contrast to myths about the sole creator, it is worth noting that designing innovation in practice was both a collective and an individuated process – particular designs and designers were formed by creating with others (but the actual project managers were shifting). As reflected by Silje Sandahl, TOMRA’s industrial designer, “Yes, it is often we who serve as interface with a number of different functions, actually.” Why all this collaboration? Sustaining such combined efforts beyond the conventional did actually seem to help to find and frame new approaches and solutions, which became of interest to others. As suggested in balans’ alternative sitting, new wisdom may take some time to get under the skin – of creators, products and also promoters. Creative designing with and for others may thus help the experiment and may also make sense in imaginative ways both empirically and virtually. This can include probing and testing something new in relevant environments e.g. with distributors and regulating bodies in other countries. Seeing what an idea can look like or how something “works” even in a very rough form can be rewarding, cheap, and critical. Being willing to call into question own ideas and reconsidering concepts may otherwise be difficult, because of the tendency to fixate on early ideas, past solutions, or own ways of working (e.g., Leonard-Barton, 1995). Becoming something more In the cases explored, creative design gained meanings in many fundamental ways – becoming particular work approaches, core perspectives, or principles for design/ innovating. Design also helped configure and give sense to key content and created significant forms for offerings and valuable inputs to further creation and placing of new designs. For example, the in-house designer Tore Mortvedt explained that the Bounce ‘n’ Sleep is an indoor product that should be comfortable for the child and also have some kind of mobility so that the child could be close to the parent.” Reflecting on his last six years’ experiences at STOKKE, Tore Mortvedt stressed how the product development team, designers as well as managers, was constantly asking: “What is this product?” As a responsible designer, when creating the new daybed and bouncer concept, he was also inspired and pleased to be involved in a product – from “nothing” to its market/ user communication. Discussion Clearly, creative designing is not something given or finished, once and for all. In searching for something that is attractive, less complex to use, and which feels appropriate, the hope is


The Paradoxical road to innovation

Figure 2.8 Stokke Bounce’n’Sleep daybed. Designers: Tore Mortvedt and Ksenia Stanishevski Photo credit Stokke



that design can help “make it work right” (Caplan, 2005). Tore Mortvedt reflected on the challenges when designing something new, including emergent “failures,” which, however, had become very important learning lessons to make further progress. He explained how in the redesign of existing complex products, it is an opportunity to both improve and also “take away things,” in short, to “clean up” in order to move towards “a total form language.” He experienced the value of this approach in a complex redesign of a STOKKE product, “you got a far more harmonious product.” He adds that “this is something the customer can’t articulate,” but doing this work in the recent project boosted sales. Voicing and reconfiguring something new or different can be notoriously difficult in practice. Hence it is worth noting the frequent interactions among designers, business managers, developers, etc., often daily when the project is at its most intense, as explained by for example Peter Opsvik (1994). The industrial design-related interactions involved different as well as overlapping outlooks and concerns for diverse parts of developments or operations. In part, this resonates with past research. For example, in all of the internationally exhibited design management cases from three continents (called TRIAD), some variety of design-specialist input and “interdisciplinary teamwork characterized the work from early stages on” (Design Management Institute, 1989: 7). However, the importance of maintaining and nurturing these design-business relationships is a dimension that did not emerge from the TRIAD research (Freeze, 1998b: 208). Creating work and dialogues unfolded even between projects – perhaps suggesting the positive deviance or uniqueness of the cases studied (cf. Starbuck, 2006). In some cases, I found that designers were already in motion working on what later became relevant problems and solutions long before any commission or briefing procedure. Paradoxically, when dealing with the new in such varied or equivocal manners—allowing new or alternative inputs, directions, and solutions to emerge— design teams can both explore and share some diverse ideas and experiences. They may thus eventually work towards agreeing on something, which can establish new focus or outcomes that engage and benefit many other people. Such dynamics can also involve positive paradoxes. For example, uncommon, somewhat mysterious, or apparently opposing aspects in creative designing and its management can actually make constructive contributions (Jevnaker, 2003b). Not everybody is equally disposed or trained to engage in recurrent creation and co-creation and benefit from such dynamics. It is important to note that researchers have previously found design and designers in business to be a “silent” profession (Sparke, 1983). Designers could perhaps easily be misunderstood as being literally silent in their professional work. In the cases explored, I could identify a lot of talk and also highly communicative body-gesturing among the involved parties, as also reflected upon by several of the company managers. The rich talk through design seemed to help open up wider dialogues and collaboration. 7. So what? Managing for and by design Managing design tends to be rooted in success stories or missionary tales, but how design is used in practice has also been debated as being diffuse, fragmented, or

even “mysterious” (Olins, 1987). Designing includes numerous choices and bifurcation points of where to go to next. Both the design team’s fundamental inquiring and the wider communicative engaging into something new and better can be highly valuable in innovation but may need support and leverage from management as well (as happened in these cases). However, other organizations may not have people with sufficient complexities to embrace something equivocal from the environment, as suggested by Weick (1969/1979). As might happen with new or unconventional proposals, the balans alternative seating created attention but was also met with initial skepticism when the ten models were first exhibited. Yet the creative designers together with several managers, developers, and a physiotherapist were continuing their design experiments. This may sound unusual. What then do the cases in this chapter have in common? A recurrent finding in the design-business cases explored in this chapter displays the following pattern: Highly interactive and interpersonal acquaintance among particular designers, developers, managers, customers, suppliers etc. revealed through new as well as previous associations and somewhat random meetings or inquiries, which became beneficial for the further work relations in design. Corporate design is also “much more person-dependent than anyone is aware of,” said Geir Øxseth, a design engineer and practicing industrial designer teaching design students in Oslo. As pinpointed by Lars-Fredrik Forberg, they were most interested in those “who have actually thought about the problem beforehand…” Nonetheless, both STOKKE and Scandinavian Business Seating, just like IBM, actually dared to engage creative industrial designers who had NOT worked with these kinds of products or materials before. This may perhaps seem like a paradox for other managers and designers. Recall that a paradox is the simultaneous existence of two inconsistent states, such as innovation and efficiency, or new and old. Eisenhardt (2000, p. 703) proposes that “rather than compromising between the two in some sort of Goldilocks fantasy, vibrant organizations, groups, and individuals change by simultaneously holding on to the two perspectives. (…) The management of this duality hinges on exploring the tension in a creative way that captures both extremes, thereby capitalizing on the inherent pluralism within the duality.” Designers and close collaborators in the cases studied seemed to manage the tensions by frequently iterating between an imaginative “what-if,” i.e. an open, solution probing, and checking out experiences with both solutions that could be and solutions that already exist elsewhere. For example, early on the balans designers and an inventor explored problems and solutions in many areas such as trying new models in public transportation and also exploring particular (extreme) sitting problems such as in a rehabilitation hospital. When one patient who had not been able to sit for a long time was actually able to sit on an early model, this created compelling experiences and insights for the design group, according to the inventor Hans Christian Mengshoel (see Jevnaker, 1995b). Design also concerns what may not be directly tangible, yet might be experienced as valuable and even critical, such as the air between the upper body and the work-chair’s headrest. The actual solutions for example for HÅG can be interpreted as “architectural innovation” (Henderson and Clark, 1990), which means reconfiguring the components of an office chair in new ways while strengthening the core concept of sitting – with “movement and variation.”


The Paradoxical road to innovation



Figure 2.9 Gravity balans. Design: Peter Opsvik AS, balans concept: Hans Chr. Mengshoel. Licensee/ Distributor: Stokke (1983-2006) and Varier from 2006 Photo credit Tollefsen and Peter Opsvik AS

Behind this philosophy, we could identify recurring efforts of making sense of what was being designed and developed. Also, as identified in all these cases, reframing the new may need to be conceived, tested, and continually worked upon and refined. This is important because creative designing can change or shape the boundaries of many other functions; from procurement, production, marketing, branding, logistics and customer interactions. As happened at STOKKE, the whole traditional sales apparatus was at some point replaced and new people were recruited. New middle managers and many international links and intermediate entities have, however, learned to communicate and grasp the “what” and “why” of STOKKE’s new offerings. Also, visuals and well-integrated or embodied design help do the signaling and “talking.” Constituting both a creating and a mediating (signaling and linking) technology, creative design may rightly be regarded as difficult to manage. As Dumas (1993) suggests, there can be both “seen design” and more unaware, “silent,” critical aspects in real-world dealing with design issues, which can create tensions among specialized designers and corporate managers. Design inputs and expertise can be used and interpreted quite differently, as shown in previous research (e.g., Svengren, 1998). When for example HÅGs former CEO wanted to send the designer home, because “he was finished,” a middle manager protested, insisting that “it is now it is beginning.” Sustaining these endeavors, in fact, led this enterprise in new and more successful directions (Jevnaker, 1995b, 2003a). Although design is a creative practice belonging to the “science of the artificial” (Simon, 1969), we contend that design is also about social and political factors and rhetoric (see e.g., Buchanan and Margolin, 1995; Farstad and Jevnaker, 2010):

how design efforts connect, communicate, and interact—beneficially or not—with others. Both designers and some managers were standing up for the new insights and experiences and drawing upon them when building new understanding. Such organizational and political aspects of design interaction emerged for example in the ThinkPad case, which we visited in the beginning of this chapter. For IBM’s head of design at the time, Tom Hardy, it was crucial to “make Sapper a more integral team member with locations on a day-to-day basis when developing a new “differentiation” strategy and wanting to make the strategy work.” Through a new communication tool the hired design consultant, Richard Sapper, became “available for consultation with individual designers in any of the design centers” involved in this project. He also acted as a trouble shooter, as Kazuhiko Yamazaki, leading a design team outside Tokyo, reflected (Sakakibara, 1998, p. 101):

“For young designers like me, the existence of Sapper is of great help, because we can take a short-cut within the company’s bureaucracy by getting Sapper’s authorization. Sapper is almost an insider because he has a long relationship with IBM. He has faith of what is good design. He is strong. But simultaneously, he is not wedded to the old ways. He is also a nice person. He is not interested in monetary affairs.”

This “almost an insider role” and “faith of what is good” also resonate with the acquired roles of particular industrial designers, for example Peter Opsvik and Roy Tandberg, when working recurrently for some Scandinavian enterprises. Furthermore, what the designers, managers, and teams actually engaged in encompassed not only previously described activities and valuable roles for creative design, such as facilitating, differentiating, integrating, and communicating (Hayes, 1990). These activities were important for the enterprises, but there was more going on. Creative designers and managers were also taking themselves and their companies into other ends and ways of generating and focusing on innovation. How can we learn from their somewhat unconventional ways of working? The equivocal and enhanced roles of design may help us understand this. Both creative design and managing for design were actively dealing with both basic innovation work and creative continuation. The combined actions were taking advantage of what others would look upon as opposites such as new and old experiences, efforts to create something new together with efforts towards more effective and efficient development work. Allowing such tensions not merely to coexist, but rather coming regularly into action can be described as a paradoxical road to innovation. What are the implications from this paradoxical road? In managing innovations it seems insufficient to consider only what is in the very middle of “the viable, the desirable and feasible,” as is often drawn as three intersecting circles by some consultants. There are three reasons at least that this can be wrong: 1)



Because radical innovations per definition involve a break with existing solutions and framing, they may at first be rejected or perceived as inefficient, ugly, and difficult to understand. The potentially most innovative ideas may thus first tend to be perceived beyond the middle of what is most desirable, viable, or feasible. Ideas or solutions perhaps beyond the boundaries of what is perceived as desirable, viable and feasible, often called “wild ideas,” may still help to The Paradoxical road to innovation



Jevnaker conceive, configure, and make sense of something innovative such as happened in the reframing of sitting. In short, exploring a wider space of resources, actions, and outcomes can become beneficial. Although most business customers did not adopt the most deviant balans chairs, these experiments did in fact help develop practical ways, principles, and symbols for reconfiguring work chairs, such as happened at HÅG. What may be regarded as “peripheral” problems, solutions or situations may move—quickly or slowly—into desirable, feasible or viable solutions through fundamental changes in cultures, economies, and technologies. For example, experiments with recycling and sorting used the same resources for reuse as TOMRA (2012) has been doing for 40 years. This point is not limited to products; it extends into service design. Another example that may underpin this argument is the emergent use of robots for supporting the elderly as some companies and innovators are currently exploring, and other people may find strange. Eventually, this apparently paradoxical road may perhaps help respond to the growing numbers of the oldest seniors who have many unmet needs.

On this background, it can be crucial for enterprises as well as societies to be capable of continuing both creative experiments and small-scale, serious innovative accomplishments, in fact, actions that may move beyond what is first perceived as valuable or innovative. This is interesting for widening our capabilities of how to actually innovate aided by creative design. 8. Conclusion Real-world examples such as the long-term innovation initiatives by Opsvik studio, STOKKE, HÅG, and other contributors indicate that efforts and will to design something good are fundamental for creative design as well as managing for design. In principle, creative design is as much about attending to green growth dynamics or innovating for people’s active everyday situations as it is about making something for leisure or luxury. Both TOMRA and Scandinavian Business Seating have pioneered innovating with serious concern for green aspects, whether like TOMRA helping the world recycle, or as Scandinavian Business Seating proactively experimenting with and adopting recycled or recyclable materials as key ingredients in their new work chairs. Innovations emerge and create further actualities and possibilities, costs and benefits in many ways we do not yet fully understand. The equivocal role of creative design can help us understand the richness of design action – both as a calling (dedication) and as response to manifold calls for different and better experiences. Design is not everything, but it somehow gets into almost everything,” reflects the design writer Ralph Caplan (2005, p. 6). It seems increasingly so. Taking our planet into consideration, the new rapid tools for innovation should be used not only with techne but also with wisdom, artfulness, care or even prudence. Among many meanings, design is about drawing and animating something potentially “good,” “appropriate,” “beautiful,” and easy to use. To achieve this, the cases suggest not only recurrent design efforts but willingness to work continually with somewhat unconventional doings and directions. Furthermore, we should acknowledge how both enterprises and designers can engage in actually delivering and communicating new solutions and thinking – even in the longer term.

Note that there is a difference of kind when taking a phenomenon as contingent and generative, rather than as given (Venkataram et al., 2012: 24). Understanding how this happens and can be enabled in ways that can foster or hinder something new is a central challenge for the theory and practice of both business innovation and design. As managers of the HÅG and STOKKE brands have experienced, it can be highly valuable for the enterprise to work in deeper ways with particular design experts and design actions. All our respondents stressed collaborating and working “with.” Recurrent associations and workings between creative designers and some managers, including many other actors, helped create what was actually achieved in the respective enterprises. Industrial design tends to be a process that needs many kinds of inputs and contributions. Considering the positive paradoxes of design, there is much to learn for all parties experiencing firsthand the huge efforts enacted by creative design endeavors. As the Scandinavian cases illustrate, it is both possible and serious playful work to achieve something more. The cases suggest how creative design as well as managing for design can and will contribute across particular situations and with diversely skilled people in and beyond enterprises. What creative designers actually do when moving around remained important, as reflected by the design strategist Tom Hardy (2008): “— My working relationship with Richard reinforced the importance of making time to enjoy life away from the business realm. Whereas he works very hard, he also makes time for his family and to experience new things and enjoy the pleasant side of life. I also experienced Richard’s approach of continually searching for unique ideas to commonplace problems.”


The Paradoxical road to innovation

63 References Bayley, S. and Conran, T. 2007. Design: Intelligence Made Visible. London: Conran Octopus. Becker, H. S. 1986. Writing for Social Scientists. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Bierut, M. 2007. Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design (1st ed.). New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Boland, R. J. and Collopy, F. (Eds.) 2004. Managing as Design. Stanford, California: Stanford Business Books. Bruce, M. and Jevnaker, B. H. (Eds.) 1998. Management of Design Alliances: Sustaining Competitive Advantage. Chichester: J. Wiley & Sons. Buchanan, R. and Margolin, V. (Eds.) 1995. Discovering Design: Explorations in Design Studies. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Buxton, B. W. 2007. Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies) (1st ed.). San Francisco: Morgan Kauffman, Elsevier. Capjon, J. 2004. Trial-and-Error-based Innovation: Catalysing Shared Engagement in Design Conceptualisation. Oslo School of Architecture, Oslo. Caplan, R. 2005. By design: Why There are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV, and Other Object Lessons (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Fairchild Publications. Christensen, C. M. 1997. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press. Cooper, R., Lockwood, T. and Junginger, S. 2011. Handbook of Design Management: Berg Publishers.

Jevnaker Cranz, G. 1998. The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Cross, N. 2011. Design Thinking: Understanding how Designers Think and Work. Oxford: Berg. Dell’Era, C. and Verganti, R. 2010. Collaborative Strategies in Design-intensive Industries: Knowledge Diversity and Innovation. Long Range Planning, 43, 1, pp. 123–141. Design Management Institute 1989. Designing for Product Success: Essays and Case Studies from the TRIAD Design Project Exhibit. Boston: Design Management Institute. Dorst, K. 1997. Describing Design: A Comparison of Paradigms. Delft University of Technology, Rotterdam. Dumas, A. 1993. The Effect of Management Structure and Organizational Process on Decisions in Industrial Design. London Business School, London. Eisenhardt, K. 2000. Paradox, Spirals, Ambivalence: The new language of change and pluralism. The Academy of Management Review, 25, pp. 703–705. Fagerberg, J., Mowery, D. C. and Nelson, R. R. (Eds.) 2005. The Oxford Handbook of Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Farstad, P. and Jevnaker, B. H. 2010. Design i praksis: designledelse og innovasjon. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Freeze, K. 1998a. Novo Nordisk A/S: Innovative Design for Diabetics. B. H. Jevnaker and M. Bruce (Eds.), Management of Design Alliances: Sustaining Competitive Advantage, pp. 137–158. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Freeze, K. 1998b. Design Management Lessons from the Past: Henry Dreyfuss and American Business (with Earl Powell). M. Bruce & B. H. Jevnaker (Eds.), Management of Design

Alliances: Sustaining Competitive Advantage. Chichester: J. Wiley & Sons. Hayes, R. 1990. Design: Putting Design into World Class. Design Management Journal, 1, 2. Henderson, R. M. and Clark, K. B. 1990. Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and the Failure of Established Firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 1, pp. 9–30. Heskett, J. 2002. Toothpicks & Logos: Design in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jevnaker, B. H. 1993a. Kompetansestrategier i bedrifter (Competence Strategies in Firms, in Norwegian). In O. m. f. Nordhaug (Ed.). Strategisk personalledelse, pp. 139–172. Oslo: TANO. Jevnaker, B. H. 1995a. Developing Capabilities for Innovative Product Designs: A Case Study of the Scandinavian Furniture Industry. M. Bruce & W. G. Biemans (Eds.), Product Development: Meeting the Challenge of the Design-Marketing Interface, pp. 181–201. Chichester. Jevnaker, B. H. 1995b Den Skjulte Formuen. Industridesign som Kreativ Konkurransefaktor (‘The Hidden Treasure,’ in Norwegian), 58/1995. Bergen: SNF Institute for Research in Economics and Business Administration. Jevnaker, B. H. 2003a. Innovasjon og organisasjon – fra mysterium til magi (“Innovation and Organization – From Mystery to Magic” in Norwegian). Nordiske Organisasjonsstudier, 4, pp. 3–27. Jevnaker, B. H. 2003b Innovere for å bevare? Om innovasjonsparadoks i organisasjoner (‘Innovate to Preserve’ in Norwegian). Nordiske Organisasjonsstudier, 4, pp. 100–138. Jevnaker, B. H. 2003c. Industrial Designers as Boundary Workers. N. Paulsen & T. Hernes (Eds.), Managing Boundaries in Organizations: Multiple Perspectives. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.


Jevnaker, B.H. 2012. Vestiges of Design-Creation: An inquiry into the advent of designer and enterprise Relations. Series of Dissertations, 6, 2012. Oslo: BI Norwegian Business School. Johansson, U. and Svengren Holm, L. 2008. Möten kring Design. Om Relationer Mellan Design, Teknik och Marknadsföring (in Swedish) (1st ed.). Stockholm: Studentlitteratur. Lawson, B. and Dorst, K. 2009. Design Expertise. Oxford: Elsevier: Architectural Press. Leonard-Barton, D. 1995. Wellsprings of Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the Sources of Innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Lindholm, C., Keinonen, T. and Kiljander, H. (Eds.) 2003. Mobile Usability: How NOKIA Changed the Face of the Mobile Phone. New York: McGraw-Hill. Lundequist, J. 1995. Design och Produktutveckling: Metoder och Begrepp. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Moggridge, B. 2007. Designing Interactions (Foreword by Gillian Crampton Smith) (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA & London, England: The MIT Press. Moggridge, B. 2010. Designing Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Norman, D. A. 1988. The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books. Nås, S. O., Sandven, T. and Smith, K. 1994. Innovasjon og Teknologi i Norsk Industri: En Oversikt, 4, 1994. Oslo: STEP group (later NIFU-STEP). Olins, W. 1987. Mysteries of Design Management Revealed. J. Bernsen & D. D. Council (Eds.), Design Management in Practice. Copenhagen: European/EEC Design Editions & Danish Design Council Copenhagen & Fundación BCD Barcelona. The Paradoxical road to innovation

65 Opsvik, P. 2008. Rethinking Sitting (1st ed.). Oslo: Gaidaros Forlag AS. Perez, C. 2002. Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages (Pbck 2003 ed.). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Rogers, E. M. 1962/1995. Diffusion of Innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press. Sakakibara, K. 1998. Global New Product Development: The Case of IBM Notebook Computers. M. Bruce & B. H. Jevnaker (Eds.), Management of Design Alliances: Sustaining Competitive Advantage. Chichester: J. Wiley & Sons.

Jevnaker Sparke, P. 1983. Consultant Design: The History and Practice of the Designer in Industry. London: Pembridge. Starbuck, W. H. 2006. The Production of Knowledge: The Challenge of Social Science Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Svengren, L. 1995. Industriell Design som Strategisk Ressurs (‘Industrial Design as a Strategic Resource’ in Swedish). Lund University, Lund. Svengren, L. 1998. Integrating Design as a Strategic Resource: the Case of Ericsson Mobile Communications. B. H. Jevnaker & M. Bruce (Eds.), Management of Design Alliances, pp. 159–178. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Saxenian, A. 1994/1996. Regional Advance: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

TOMRA 2012. Annual Report 2011. Asker: TOMRA Systems AS.

Schumpeter, J. A. 1934/1983. The Theory of Economic Development: An Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle. With a New Introduction by John E. Elliot (R. Opie, Trans. English ed. Several reprints exist (1934 ed. published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA) ed.). New Brunswick (U.S.A.) and London (U.K.) Transaction Publishers.

Van de Ven, A. H., Polley, D. E., Garud, R. and Venkataraman, S. 1999. The Innovation Journey. New York: Oxford.

Urban, G. L. and Hauser, J. R. 1993. Design and Marketing of new Products. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Schumpeter, J. A. 1942/1976. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (w/a new introuction by Tom Bottomore). New York: HarperPerennial.

Venkataraman, S., Sarasvathy, S. D., Dew, N. and Forster, W. R. 2012. Reflections on the 2010 AMR Decade Award: Whither the Promise? Moving Forward with Entrepreneurship as a Science of the Artificial. Academy of Management Review, 37, 1, pp. 21–33.

Schön, D. A. 1987. Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Verganti, R. 2009. Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.

Schön, D. A. 1988. Designing: Rules, Types and Worlds. Design Studies, 9, 3, July 1988, pp. 181–190.

Weick, K. E. 1969/1979. The Social Psychology of Organizing. New York: Random House.

Simon, H. 1969/1996. The Sciences of the Artificial (3rd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Interviews directly referred to in citations Hardy, T. 2008. Personal email correspondence with design strategist Tom Hardy, 16 December 2008. Løvlie, L. 2008. Interview with co-founder and industrial & interaction & service designer Lavrans Løvlie, 7 May, 2008 at live|work, Oslo, plus many conversations. Mortvedt, T. 2011. Interview with industrial designer Tore Mortvedt, 21 December, 2011 at BI Nydalen, Oslo. Opsvik, P. 1994. Interview with professional designer Peter Opsvik, 30 June, 1994 and May, 1995 at Peter Opsvik AS, Oslo, plus many later conversations. Planke, T. 1994. Interview with former technical director of TOMRA, 2 and 16 December, 1994 (on phone). Sandahl, S. 2010. Interview with industrial designer Silje Sandahl, BI Nydalen, 12 April 2010 and at TOMRA, Asker, 18 May, 2010. Øxseth, G. 1994. Interview/talks with industrial designer and engineer Geir Øxseth, 2 December 1994 (on phone), plus 15 December 2005 and many later conversations. Øxseth is a cofounder of Øxseth & Angelfoss Industridesign ( http://, accessed 7.10.2008).


The Paradoxical road to innovation


3 68

Running Head


Running Head

Travelling light — An  evolutionary approach to radical innovation



Travelling light — An evolutionary  approach to radical innovation Martin Woolley, Coventry School of Art and Design

“Research and development takes time and it takes money, with many dead ends before breakthroughs occur. But it is how new technology is created; it’s a long slog – ideas are instant but invention is long-term.” — James Dyson1

Introduction Theoretical models of the innovation process frequently distinguish between incremental and radical innovation, suggesting that product, service or process innovation can be categorised only in terms of these two polarised, relatively artificial classifications. In reality, the complexity of the designed world suggests that the majority of innovations embody elements of both and additionally engage with forms of non-innovation where existing designs are still strategically relevant. This more realistic, flexible view of innovation can be further explored by considering the varied nature of innovation impact, radical or otherwise, for although radical innovation can take many forms, in design terms radicalism can be characterised either by direct, external societal impact or by more covert shifts in the way that underlying internal systems operate. So for example, a radical ‘overt’ change in transport design might have profound implications for a wide range of users/nonusers, providers, designers and decision makers in industry and government. A radical ‘covert’ transport innovation, such as a major shift in fuel technology may, or may not, result in a significant direct impact amongst similar interest groups. It can be argued that the more fundamental the change in the technology which


Dyson, J., 2010. “Ingenious Britain Making the UK the leading high tech exporter in Europe.” Available at: http://www. innovateuk. org/_assets/ pdf/otherpublications/ ingeniousbritain. pdf, p. 42.

underpins a well-established infrastructure, the more important it is to minimise disruption. In reality, the gap between ‘overt’ and ‘covert’ innovation is rarely easily defined. Radical shifts in internal system design can have significant external impact, be it cost or performance. Conversely, a paradigm shift in a physical form of transport often demands fundamental change in the design of underlying support systems. The paradigm is a useful tool for investigating the role of design in relation to a mixed model of both radical and incremental innovation. The model is primarily focussed on the definition and application of design-led continuous innovation (DLCI) as a means of providing long-term support for core R&D linked to staged design outputs. The subtle synergies between overt/covert innovation and incremental/ radical innovation in relation to a specific case study—the Microcab, a hydrogenfuelled road vehicle being manufactured by Coventry University Enterprises as a collaborative project—is explored in relation to the DLCI model. This evolutionary project, which has been running for fifteen years as a long-term commitment to ‘life without oil’ has involved a complex framework of engineering, design, entrepreneurial and research activities. In particular, Microcab has been supported by a combination of public- and private-sector funding through a business model which uniquely integrates University and SME activities, a model particularly suitable for radical innovations which lie outside mainstream industrial activities. The case study traces the evolution of this complex framework, identifies its strengths in relation to the interplay between covert and overt design, and examines the particular challenges in achieving an appropriate balance between the two. Microcab is used as a model to compare and contrast with the corresponding innovation processes in mainstream commercial industry and concludes that radical and complex innovation is more effectively conducted in SMEs. In contrast, it is suggested that continuous incremental innovation, refinement of existing products and processes, are more effectively conducted in the mainstream, because of the more substantial systems, resources and knowledge available. It is argued that ultimately for a radical innovation to be widely adopted, a form of integrated collaboration between the mainstream and the innovation developer is necessary for mass market rather than niche adoption. Microcab is undergoing its fifth iteration in the process of general adoption. The next stage of the Microcab project is as it moves from a niche prototype vehicle to becoming a fully resolved part of a major pan-European collaborative project to drive an experimental ‘Hydrogen Super Highway’ through Europe. The implications of this in terms of the DLCI agenda are discussed and new research opportunities identified. Finally, the long-term relationship between incremental and radical innovation is re-examined and a new


Travelling light

Figure 3.1



paradigm established with a transferable application to other innovative sustainable design/engineering/technology sectors. ‘It is better to travel than to arrive’ a truism beloved of seasoned travellers – hikers, rally drivers and round-the-world yachtsmen and exemplified by the archetypical American road movie; a contrasting parallel is the innovation process where, conversely, it is usually ‘better to arrive than to travel.’ In today’s competitive markets the production of novel goods, services or processes represent a desirable arrival (ahead of rival arrivals), albeit frequently a dead end, the ‘journey’ being a necessary, expensive, risky and sometimes unpredictable sequence. This approach undervalues the potential of the innovation ‘journey’ as an end in itself. Certain types of innovation, where radical design and disruptive technologies intertwine, continuous travel can be more rewarding, particularly when ‘staging posts’ produce deliverables en route. Sustainability frequently demands profound new thinking and radical solutions and, as Bessant makes clear, requires new forms of innovation to meet the challenges.

“Sustainability – a fashionable word but a huge challenge both for incremental innovation (really doing what we do but better, taking the waste out of our processes, redesigning existing products and services, rethinking business models to take account of sustainability issues) and for radical, discontinuous innovation. This means finding completely new ways of achieving many of the things we have taken for granted in fields like energy, resources, transportation – and rethinking not just our product and process innovations but the underlying business models which we use.” — John Bessant2

The low-carbon Microcab is the only dual hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle [which includes battery capability] designed and manufactured in the UK. Microcab, a flagship visionary design and technology project, represents a fifteen-year ‘innovation journey.’ Hosted by Coventry University, it exists because of the vision and entrepreneurship of Professor John Jostins; Microcab has progressed as a result of many partnerships, with consistent support from Coventry University plus government and corporate funding. Saje defines the crucial link between sustainable design and the ethos of innovation, as exemplified by Microcab: “As the low growth world develops, so too will the ethos of innovation. Economic and environmental development will converge around ‘reduce, reuse, repair, recycle’ principles to conserve resources. Innovation will thrive even in this climate to radically change the world we know today.”

— Bettina von Stamm3

To contribute to the debate around innovation for sustainability, it is suggested that Microcab represents a real-time exemplar of DLCI, with hydrogen fuel cell technology as the ‘core of new knowledge,’ from which a succession of innovative design outcomes emanate over time.

“In the short-term, I believe we need to draw back on the plan to judge funding applications on the basis of their short-term commercial impact.


Stamm, Bettina von (Editor); Trifilova, Anna (Editor). The Future of Innovation. Farnham, Surrey, GBR: Ashgate Publishing Group, 2009. Above quote in “The Future of Innovation is Challenging the Frontier of Innovation” John Bessant, p. 42.


Stamm, Bettina von (Editor); Trifilova, Anna (Editor). Future of Innovation Farnham, Surrey, GBR: Ashgate Publishing Group, 2009. p. 88. “The Future of Innovation is After the Watershed” Al Saje p. 60.

Instead, we should seek to promote collaborations between academics, industry and not-for-profits to allow an open exchange of ideas – whether this is done through research partnerships or having academics spend more time in industry.” 4

— James Dyson4

The Microcab hydrogen powered vehicle project exhibits three basic DLCI criteria. Firstly, it is based on strategic research thinking – the challenge and vision of a ‘post-oil economy’ utilising low-carbon mobility. Secondly, since inception it has drawn on a core of continuous strategic R&D, embracing: lightweight vehicle development, carbon-neutral fuels and niche vehicle design contexts. The project has generated a sequence of ‘modelled realities’: experimental CAD models, rigs, prototypes, and trial vehicles that merge testing and user feedback with real-world operation. Thirdly, staged offshoots have resulted in vehicles for niche applications, incorporating performance and user feedback into continuing strategic design. The following explores the Microcab project with reference to its DLCI credentials. Based at Coventry University, UK the evolutionary project commenced in 1996 with an ambition to address sustainable mobility, originally human powered vehicles, later incorporating innovative fuel-cell development – notably hydrogen and integrated battery technologies. Throughout, John Jostins, Professor of Sustainable Transport Design at the School of Art and Design, Coventry University has been responsible for the vision and management, within a multi-funding context. Professor Jostins’ background is originally in fine art with interests in sustainability and formula one motor racing. He views the project as design-led and has provided the design leadership throughout. Significantly, his role is also entrepreneurial – he is a major stakeholder in Microcab as a commercial company, Coventry University Enterprises being the other investor. The Microcab project is interdisciplinary, focussed on the synergies where design and technological development are conducted in parallel, starting from basic principles outside mainstream mass manufacturing. It demonstrates a basic tenet of DLCI, that it can drive radical innovation within a real-world context, compared with mainstream automotive industries’ incremental innovation, where the scale of investment favours gradual improvements such as engine efficiency and weight reduction rather than disruptive change. Microcab, the only hydrogen fuel/battery cell vehicle designed and manufactured in the UK, has addressed disruptive innovation head-on. The project progressed through three distinct phases and is commencing a fourth as illustrated in Figure 3.2. Microcab phased development:

“The intention in the Microcab project has evolved during its development.”

— Michael Tovey5

In terms of early vision, the project focussed on radical sustainable mobility— pedal-powered urban taxis—with rapid transfer into operation; the focus later shifted to electric and hydrogen fuel-cell technologies.


Travelling light

Dyson, J., 2010.” Ingenious Britain Making the UK the Leading High Tech Exporter in Europe.” Available at: http://www. innovateuk. org/_assets/ pdf/otherpublications/ ingeniousbritain. pdf p. 34.


Michael Tovey, 2010. “The Design and Development of Microcab.” In DRS 2010 Montreal. Montreal, Canada. Available at: http://www. docs-procs/ DRS2010/ PDF/117.pdf.


Woolley 2000



Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 4

Early designs and experiments with light 3 wheel electric formats culminating with hydrogen fuel cell powered version with DTI SMART funding. Specific problem addressed – urban air pollution (3 vehicles).

Design of H4 fuel cell vehicle 2004/2005, 5 built for University of Birmingham trials 2007–2009, installation of hydrogen filing station. DTI, DECC and Science City funding.

Niche Vehicle Network grant funded design of complete new vehicle based on results of earlier trails. Build of 8 vehicles for CABLED. Funding from DECC and TSB, Hydrogen filling station in Coventry 2009–2011.

Development of the projects is planned with EU JTI SWARM multiple vehicle project (British Midlands, Belgium, Germany) extending the hydrogen highway infrastructure + the FP7 Mu Tool project, all with Microcab.

This approach confirms the DLCI paradigm – that feedback from the ongoing core process development and tangible design outcomes inevitably inform long-term strategy. The advantage of a design-led approach is that none of the stages has limited the project to a conventional ‘closed’ technological development cycle focussed on attaining a single goal. Instead, whilst the core fuel technology was potentially disruptive, the holistic design of the vehicle was viewed as multi-factorial and incremental: weight and vehicle architecture being integral to exploiting the fuel technology. More recently, the challenge of hydrogen vehicle refuelling is not viewed as ‘someone else’s problem’; through the SWARM project, a European Hydrogen Super Highway consortium becomes an extension of the project. ×

× × × ×

The four progressive phases illustrate several DLCI attributes: Regular staged design outcomes: in the form of new road vehicles, that continue to raise external awareness of the long-term project and thereby serve as collateral to attract additional resources, which in turn facilitate further product iterations in a continuous innovation cycle Wide-ranging, interdisciplinary activity including: engineering, CAD/CAM, interior design, ergonomics, science, marketing, design research, HCI, production engineering and automotive design Radical design ambition tempered by incremental technological R&D Spin-off research projects user behaviour in relation to the trialling of vehicles in collaboration with Birmingham University A unique university campus vehicle manufacturing unit: the volume is scalable – from one-off prototype (workshop), through low-volume niche

Figure 3.2 Microcab phase development

production (CU micro-factory), to potential high-volume mass production (via external manufacture) Achieving innovation that creates further innovation


These advantages can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the small-scale core project in terms of resources, funding and personnel – whilst posing limits on market penetration and speed, offers efficient flexibility. Secondly, the adaptable network of collaborating organisations and individuals around the integrated core of Coventry University and the Microcab commercial arm allows for a lean operation with contributions made on demand, rather than permanently embedded in an expensive plant. This enables flexible resource management that can adjust to unforeseen needs as they arise, rather than adapting new development requirements to existing resources within a large complex company supply chain. Thirdly, the primary aim of the project is to explore sustainable mobility, as opposed to ‘produce more successful commercial road vehicles’; this broad vision embraces funding streams aligned with long-term environmental and energy resource goals, which provides for flexible funding opportunities rarely found in mainstream commercial sectors. This works particularly well for continuous innovation projects where the purpose and context of funding is constantly shifting:

“The project has grown steadily in scale allowing a range of experiments with alternative vehicles, fuels and drive systems. As global environmental concerns are being taken extremely seriously by governments and industry

Figure 3.3 Four components of design-led continuous innovation

Niche vehicles as staged tangible outcomes

Designed vision supported by ‘Modelled Realities’

Funding flexibility – e.g associated with sustainability


Organisational flexibility – e.g collaboration on demand


Travelling light



Figure 3.4 Microcab H2EV under construction. The chassis designed by Microcab and Delta Motorsport, engineered by Lotus

leaders, the future of individualised transport products is likely to be in the integration of engineering and design innovation. From that, new products could emerge for mass use.”

— Michael Tovey6

Figure 3.3 demonstrates how four essential and flexible components have the combined capacity to engender DLCI, with design as the central driving force. Although technology is a significant element of the R&D core, Tovey emphasises the holistic, design-led attributes of the project:

1) 2)

“Whole vehicle design has always been at the heart of the project, with specific purposes and users in mind (e.g. taxis). This has allowed all aspects of the vehicle to be re-evaluated including developing a more sustainable drivetrain. There are two aspects to the current approach: Low carbon footprint designs for vehicles can be different from those currently in use. Patterns of usage will probably change and this is an ideal time to offer up alternatives. New drive systems offer new ways of packaging components in and around vehicles and therefore offer potential for better use of the space.” — Michael Tovey7

This pronounced design focus over time has a primary function—to establish, maintain and communicate ‘modelled realities’—essential for sustaining the vision and extending the life of the core project indefinitely. The resulting vision draws on the visible record of evolving achievements: early models, prototypes, CAD images, later


Michael Tovey, 2010. “The Design and Development of Microcab.” In DRS 2010 Montreal. Montreal, Canada. Available at: http://www. docs-procs/ DRS2010/ PDF/117.pdf.


Michael Tovey, 2010. “The Design and Development of Microcab.” In DRS 2010 Montreal. Montreal, Canada. Available at: http://www. docs-procs/ DRS2010/ PDF/117.pdf.

working vehicles, which act as a statement of what has been achieved, what might be possible, and embodies a strong brand identity with an ongoing process rather than a single product.Where evolving technological innovation in the form of the fuel cells was critical, this tangible vision assisted with maintaining a visible profile through periods when technological development was, whilst purposeful, slow, incremental and without significant impact. Design-led innovation integrates long-term technological progress with practical design outcomes, sufficient to ensure the longevity of the technological development and its resolution and application within a commercial market. For competitive ‘first-to-market’ reasons, it is usually assumed that innovation should be completed as rapidly as possible – in a changing world transient needs should be addressed immediately. The traditional market economy is predicated on instant satisfaction of consumer need, or creating and satisfying, new desires. More recently, the requirement is for a longer-term game plan particularly addressing environmental concerns. To respond instantly to every need or opportunity the economy is overshooting the capacity of the planet to deliver without accruing irreversible damage. In business, the term ‘innovation’ is automatically assumed to be positive; any innovation is better than no innovation. However, with converging economic and environmental crises an increasing minority are challenging this assumption. These vary from voices that promote a retreat from knee-jerk innovation with a return to a more ‘natural’ order of addressing wants and needs rather than inventing them, to those who question existing models of innovation and argue for revision rather than displacement. This latter approach includes DLCI as a long-term strategy which is driven and continuously informed by design practice around an evolving core of strategic research, development and design thinking. In this sense the vision of ‘life without oil’ serves as a reminder of long-term needs and the deprioritising of the immediate satisfaction of want.

Figure 3.5 Confirming the long-term vision, Microcab utilises a novel brand logo with the tag ‘life without oil’ as an indicator of the scope and depth of the project

Short-term or continuous innovation? Incremental innovation is synonymous with small, evolutionary changes, achieved by adding a refinement or feature to a product, service or process, sometimes a small step before implementing more radical change. Typically, in automotive design this might take the form of a minor added function (a cup holder), aesthetic upgrade (body trim) or a performance-related feature (engine upgrade). It is associated with extending an existing model to maintain sales within a limited R&D budget and time frame. However, the much quoted distinction between incremental, radical and disruptive innovation types rarely addresses the variable pace of innovation; ignoring the complexities of innovation in the real world and the wide range of variants. Where an innovation is a discreet entity—a single, independent change—introduction (as opposed to development) can be rapid. In many ways, DLCI complements the thinking behind the ‘slow design’ concept that has emerged over the last four years, particularly the evolutionary aspects described by Strauss and Fuad-Luke:

“Slow design recognizes that richer experiences can emerge from the dynamic maturation of artefacts and environments over time. Looking beyond the needs and circumstances of the present day, slow design processes and outcomes become agents of both preservation and transformation.” 8


Travelling light


Cipolla, C. & Peruccio, P.P., 2008. “Changing the change proceedings.” In [Torino]: Allemandi Conference Press. p. 134. In The Slow Design Principles. A New Interrogative and Reflexive Tool for Design Research and Practice. [Strauss, Fuad-Luke].



Figure 3.6 Design, technology and innovation types

Radical design

Continuous innovation parallels slow design, but with an emphasis on the longterm goal of sustaining a central continuum of knowledge, skills and methods, with designed outcomes as required or when economically viable. Indeed, this can generate spin-off outcomes which may, in the long term, be speedier than more conventional patterns of innovation, because R&D is a constant rather than transient presence. This model of continuous innovation becomes more justifiable when the process is not finite, with a single tangible outcome, but rather becomes a complex pattern of development dependent upon the flexible interaction of resources, where design and engineering intertwine. The development and introduction of an innovation can be gradual, for example in the incremental introduction of radical core technology. The eventual outcome might be disruptive, but displacement takes place over time, perhaps growing from a niche to a mass-market context, in this case, ‘radicalism by stealth’ as explored by Microcab through a package of integrated, diverse incremental stages achieved over time, including design, invention, technological refinement, user research, testing, market research and prototyping. Figure 3.6 illustrates ways in which design can be deployed in terms of different forms of innovation. At a basic level, a simple technological upgrade combined with minor design modifications will minimise change and retain existing patterns of use. This can be observed in automotive design when an existing model or range requires an operational/aesthetic upgrade to extend its market life. Alternatively, ‘performance innovation,’ which relates to speed/ efficiency and incremental design, can be deployed to improve mechanistic



Incremental design


Evolving technology


Disruptive technology

characteristics without significant changes to the form of the product. This can happen when a particular design archetype is considered robust enough to maintain consumer demand over time, whilst its performance is on an upward trajectory. This approach can be deployed strategically to provide reassurance that ‘nothing has really changed’ and the perception of stability provided by familiarity when a rapidly changing core technology might pose a negative user challenge. In this context, the current iteration of Microcab can be radical in terms of performance innovation but incremental in design terms – its core technology and architecture is revolutionary, the designed form of the vehicle itself remains evolutionary. In terms of DLCI, it is possible to conceive of a future iteration whereby both are revolutionary and disruptive as a result. This contrasts markedly with ‘static innovation,’ which achieves added value through historic stability rather than exploitation of change – the Morgan vehicle brand being a notable example. Design and technological innovation

“Industrial design has evolved into a new field – design innovation. Designing consumer experiences— information, interaction, and service— requires innovation.”

— Bruce Nussbaum9


New technology often dominates the innovation process, although its influence is by no means exclusive, and a range of other factors contribute to and sometimes drive innovation at a fundamental level, including user needs (demand pull), emotion and aesthetics, as well as economic and cultural elements. As an overarching interdisciplinary process, design often engages with one or more of these factors—sometimes simultaneously—and is well placed to contribute to innovation, particularly where potentially disruptive technologies are introduced into the public domain for the first time. In this context, design has the capacity to render the unfamiliar familiar, to humanise the artificial, to simplify the complex, and to create order from chaos. Figure 3.7 explores this design potential in relation to the discipline of engineering and illustrates how technological invention and designled innovation interrelate. The model relates to low-carbon vehicle design, where early-stage fuel innovation is realised through inventive powertrain technologies integrated within rather than added to innovative vehicle architecture. ‘Design-led’ in this context refers specifically to this integration process, where aesthetic judgements, performance improvements, layout, architectural decisions, invention and innovation interweave over time. The resulting sequential design outputs, available intermittently to the market, ensure that the DLCI can become a justifiable end in itself, with no foreseeable final goal in mind. To aim at early closure would bring the developing core innovation to a premature end, albeit with the possibility of a successful but ephemeral conclusion. Realistically, a logical DLCI end point can occur when the process moves from niche to mass-market status, where only the resources of a large corporation would be sufficient to sustain the established core innovation through mass market adoption. Much basic and strategic research reflects this transition, the


Travelling light

Bruce Nussbaum, 2011. “Getting Schooled in Innovation.” In Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Available at: http://www. businessweek. com/bwdaily/ dnflash/jan2005/ nf2005013_8303. htm.



Performance TECHNOLOGY






DESIGN trickle down of innovation from basic science to technological applications and then to design-led innovation on a mass market scale. Figure 3.8 illustrates DLCI in relation to these research domains, where market impact is determined by the interplay of technology push and demand pull.

Figure 3.7 The design-led, technological innovation context

This wider research context helps to clarify the definition of DLCI: Design-led Continuous Innovation is an evolving core of applied and strategic research, development and design which underpins the staged spin-off of related designed outcomes.

Nowotny supports this concept of the continuous nature of innovation and links it to a breadth of vision rather than specific ambition, with serendipity as a significant element playing an important part:

“That is why innovation cannot be oriented toward a specific goal. It is a process in which the space of possibilities is opening up and opportunities that usually arise unexpectedly should be used. As a process, innovation is never temporally or spatially finished. It is something preliminary whose dynamic pushes forward but knows no end point or arrival. It is thus more self-sufficient and at the same time more pragmatic than the technological visions that its pragmatism includes. Breakthroughs occur; they cannot be planned.”10

It can be argued that complex innovations are to a degree continuous; the internal combustion engine for example has undergone development and refinement


Nowotny, Helga; Cohen, Mitch (Translator). Insatiable Curiosity: Innovation in a Fragile Future. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2008. p. 168.

Ba sic h a rc

e Res gic

ate h arc

e Res


d plie Ap

Continuous design-led innovation

h arc

e Res


Innovation through “demand-pull”


Innovation through “technology-push”


The Market for almost a century. However, the dispersed nature of this continuity takes place across disconnected competing companies, research establishments and countries, which does not equate with the definition of continuous innovation, where a single, controlled development core evolves from which material outputs are generated over time, within a collaborative, rather than competitive, network. The position of design in this context requires clarification because inevitably there is a wide range of possibilities. A primary design function is to translate and transfer strategic research into applied research outputs, based on detailed knowledge of the core research and development potential. Another fundamental design role is as a controlling influence on the research and development core; in the case of Microcab the project leader has a broad working knowledge, ranging from fuel cell technologies to vehicle design and beyond. In order to understand Microcab DLCI in the context of practice, it is helpful to examine existing definitions of research/development including the overlapping fields of basic, strategic and applied research derived from the original and influential OECD Frascati Manual published in 1963. Basic research is essentially investigative, with no practical application, usually associated with the pure sciences seeking knowledge for its own sake. In contrast, strategic research is research conducted for some future purpose, without immediate application, e.g. medical research is devoted to understanding the complexities of the human body with a long-term aim of providing a cure for illness or disease. Finally, applied research is defined in terms of the ability to meet immediate, often commercial, goals. Whilst these definitions of research appear to have distinct boundaries, the reality is less obvious, their interplay and overlap is often their most


Travelling light

Figure 3.8 Innovation through demand pull and technology push



interesting and useful aspect. Current UK government policy on optimising the return on research investment is concerned with payback – how the different research categories deliver in the short and medium term. Current emphasis on research ‘impact’ is testimony to the perceived need for tangible benefits, rather than knowledge for its own sake. The scientific community is fearful that basic research will lose out, even though in the long term, basic research often underpins both strategic and applied research, leading ultimately to the more innovative outputs in the designed world. Traditionally, design practice has been associated with applied research for obvious reasons: it is often close to market, associated with real-world wants and needs. Less commonly understood is the potential of the association of design practice with strategic research, although in design research terms there is a clear link, particularly in academic circles. For example over the past forty years much research has been devoted to investigating the design process and developing new models. This usually represents a form of strategic research that aspires to improving practice in the long term but is not immediately dedicated to this end; unfortunately, such ‘impact’ is often only retained within the academic community. However, the DLCI encourages the transfer of strategic research through its integrated university/commercial model as exemplified by the Microcab joint university/SME shareholding. DLCI has a particular relationship with both strategic and applied research. The protracted R&D core might be considered essentially strategic, given that it is long term, with no fixed final ambition. Conversely, the production output offshoots are associated with applied research in conventional areas such as automotive and product design. This raises the question: Why apply design-led strategic research as opposed to the more traditional technology- or business-led strategic research? The advantage is related to the ability of design to envision both long- and short-term futures, to model hypothetical but tangible outcomes based on a creative awareness of developing knowledge and to understand and exploit the productive synergies between strategic and applied research. Figure 3.10 is a comparative model which draws parallels between basic, strategic and applied research synergies. It also propounds a similar relationship based on forms of future research around technological development opportunities and a core of continuous strategic design development, such as long-term analysis of requirements and technological development. This in turn leads to a continuous flow of ‘modelled realities’ which form the basis of innovative interim designed outcomes. In this sense, ‘modelled realities’ are entities which lie somewhere between concepts and tangible production outputs, closely related to conventional ‘working prototypes,’ the difference being that working prototypes usually address a single designed outcome, whereas ‘modelled realities’ address a combination of shortterm outcomes and long-term vision. In this sense, they are always incomplete. The Microcab design iterations are viewed simultaneously as operational vehicles and signifiers of future sustainable mobility.

Figur 3.9 The Microcab. Evolving DLCI core development. The power source of the H2EV features a Serenergy Serenus 3kW fuel cell system whose modules comprise the fuel cell, its control system and powerconditioning circuitry to charge the vehicle battery. Hybrid powertrain architecture combines a Lithium-ion battery with a hydrogen fuel cell to achieve excellent vehicle performance, ultra-low energy use and zero emission

Applied research

Applied research Applied design Applied research

Applied design

Applied design

Applied design

Basic research

Strategic research

Conventional research model

Design-led innovation model

To summarise the pre-requisites for design-led continuous innovation (DLCI): A foundation in substantial strategic research – technological, demographic, social, cultural, psychological A recognisable core of continuous applied research and design generating ‘modelled realities’ Staged offshoots of applied design resulting in tangible solutions, products or services which incorporate applied research feedback loops – e.g. performance, market or user research

× × ×

Solutions, products and services

Applied research

Applied research

Applied design

Continuous strategic design

Applied research

Continuous strategic research

Applied research

Solutions, products and services

“Modelled realities”

Figure 3.10 From research to design-led innovation

In this last context, Cruickshank usefully draws attention to the frequent inability to provide such offshoots as a common failure of the innovation process:

“One of the most well-known examples of where problems occur in the innovative process is where a high degree of innovation is not matched by a corresponding ability to exploit the results of this innovation, termed a company’s absorptive capacity.”11

The advantage of the model in Figure 3.10 of design-led continuous innovation is that the interplay between short-term outputs and continuous innovation can be mutually sustaining. Here, DLCI continuously benefits from regular outcomes and ‘modelled realities’ to demonstrate both progress and potential and hence attract additional funding, usually through a combination of private- and public-sector investment as exemplified by Microcab. Figure 3.11 traces links between sales, markets and substantial behavioural change which DLCI might ultimately evoke.


Travelling light


Cruickshank, L., 2010. “The Innovation Dimension: Designing in a Broader Context.” In Design Issues, 26(2), pp.17–26.



Improving innovation processes and sustaining disruptive innovation requires commercial investment (immediate and long-term) plus university/notfor-profit collaboration which maintains the long-term research and development core. In this context, universities are particularly suitable for continuous innovation because they provide: × × × × × ×

Long-term funding linked with a variety of public-sector investment agencies Potential for mixed project economy of private/ public-sector funding Interdisciplinary collaborative networks within and beyond academia Interlinking of practice, theory and research Potential to explore continuous innovation through long-termism Relative independence in relation to market pressures and limitations

Universities can provide new innovation models and apply them through unique partnerships. SMEs possess the facility to respond to this by providing flexibility, niche markets, specialist skills/knowledge, services, product and mutually agreed goals – reference Microcab as process development over 15 years. Design and innovation Although innovation has become an increasingly popular term in commerce and academia, it is seen by some as a relatively ill-defined, subjective territory. Bierut for example views it as a more desirable ‘objective’ euphemism for the less acceptable word ‘design.’

Figure 3.11 Innovation impact steps

IMPACT Disruptive innovation

Behavioural change

Radical innovation

Market shift

Incremental innovation

Sales increase

The market Static innovation

“It’s not hard to see why innovation is becoming the design world’s favourite euphemism. Design sounds cosmetic and ephemeral; innovation sounds energetic and essential.”12

In terms of this discussion, design and innovation could be viewed as complementary rather than interchangeable. Design making an integral ‘practice-based’ contribution to strategic innovation. Where design practice and design management are the primary, overarching drivers, the result is effectively design-led innovation. Manu emphasises the critical contribution design can make to the wider society, arguing that its fundamental relationship with human activity drives rather than supports innovation, a scenario close to the DLCI model:

“Design is the conscious activity of creatively combining technological invention with social innovation, for the purpose of aiding, satisfying or modifying human behaviour. Design plays an active role in creating the context of social, economic, and cultural development, by establishing the formal and normative conditions within which all human activity in the industrialised world takes place. In doing so, design is the process that leads to innovation outcomes that make possible the relationship between human beings and their world.”13

It can also be fruitful to compare design innovation with technological innovation, to assume they are interchangeable and often integrated; all overt technological innovations possess a human boundary; they are by definition facilitated by and through design. Similarly, incremental design, like its technological counterpart, is defined by small summative steps intended to extend or refine the functionality, aesthetics or meaning of objects, services or production process. In contrast, radical design represents a substantial step change in one or more of these areas, and disruptive design results in rethinking extensive changes in behaviour. The significant issue is not whether design and technological innovation are comparable, but whether they come together coherently and effectively. This becomes relevant when considering the degree to which disruptive innovation can be tolerated by recipients – for example, by demanding a substantial change of behaviour, compounded by a parallel disruptive design innovation, such challenges may be rejected by the potential user. This might explain the reason for disruptive and radical technological innovations being associated with conservative design intended to reassure rather than challenge. These innovations are often accomplished by utilising retrospective, traditional or robust designed forms which create cognitive links between a ground-breaking technology and a familiar product archetype. Thus for example, groundbreaking GUI computer interface technologies have, from the outset, employed the traditional office filing and folder metaphor as a graphic symbol control system. In attempting to gain acceptance for Microcab its exterior resembles any passenger vehicle on the road, belying the exotic technology beneath the bonnet. Conversely, an incremental technological innovation may be considered passé, insufficient to stimulate new consumer demand, in which case a more radical design form may be considered to extend market potential. Historically, this is considered the starting point for contemporary industrial design: Raymond Loewy extended the market life of traditional refrigerator technology through innovative


Travelling light


Bierut, Michael. 79 Short Essays on Design. New York, NY, USA: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007, p. 218.


Manu, A., 2010. Disruptive Business : Desire, Innovation and the Re-design of Business, Farnham, Surrey, England; Burlington, VT: Gower, p. 74.



streamlining, at a time (the Great Depression) when radical technological innovation was unaffordable. The concepts outlined are particularly relevant to the automotive field, as the mainstream market is driven by sophisticated incremental design with infrequent radical innovation. Here, the many technological innovations are literally and metaphorically ‘under the bonnet,’ with relatively minor impact on the user experience independent of performance improvements; basic vehicle archetypes (saloon, sports, SUV etc.) were fully defined by the 1950s. This has implications for radical fuel technologies such as those specified for Microcab. The weight, layout and architecture may have a profound effect on the internal layout of the vehicle, yet mainstream acceptability may dictate that the external form should conform to the established vehicle archetype. Design spin-off Traditionally, spin-off is perceived as being technology-driven; for example the space-race was identified and frequently justified through the inventions transferred from the space programme into mainstream markets, medicine and other sciences. In terms of most spin-offs, technology transfer predominates. However, even in the case of the space-race, the complexity, scale and solutions to the ‘human cargo’ issues were solved by an integrated design and technology programme, which demonstrated that products resulting from design/technology spin-off combined is a unique selling point. Long-term, research-driven programmes have complex design and technology components, such as alternative automotive fuel technologies, in which two parallel generic models are possible: a conventional automotive industry approach and an independent development programme, such as those within a notfor-profit/H.E. research context. Within the automotive industry, alternative fuel development is essentially adaptive i.e. conventional vehicle design is retained, and fuel systems are modified. The independent development programme has no such constraint and has the capacity to operate in reverse: exploring radical vehicle design compatible with novel demands and opportunities offered by new fuel technologies. The design spin-off potential, in which the development of the core technology over a lengthy period triggers a diverse range of design requirements, which may individually warrant their own design research investigations, may have the potential for spin-off beyond the core project. The following indicate the wide range of parallel design/technology research territories that might apply: × × × × × × × × ×

core-alternative fuel technology development core-alternative fuel supply systems, infrastructure, interfaces vehicle architecture, form, production human interface design – control, instrumentation, ergonomics user research – patterns of use, psychological issues and risk market research comprehensive pre-prototype research comprehensive post-production research reappraisal of design requirements: hence radical design, application of convergent technologies, different operating characteristics requiring different design approach (e.g. weight reduction)

In contrast, the mainstream automotive industry’s range of innovative options is narrow, including: ×

core alternative fuel development – in tandem with conventional fuels as hybrid vehicle incremental, ongoing vehicle form development incremental appraisal of design requirements/variants incremental pre-prototype research incremental comprehensive post-prototype research

× × × ×

It is Sometimes Better to Travel and not Arrive Figure 3.12 illustrates a progressive model for continuous innovation, starting with the single outcome associated with the linear development of a technologically innovative product (TIP). The second progression represents a model in which different stages or spin-off outcomes result from the ongoing core development, which occurs prior to the final planned outcome such as a resolved product or service. Figure 3.13 illustrates an example of the ways the Microcab innovation tree benefits from the accumulation of feedback from each outcome stage; particularly design feedback from data obtained from vehicle testing. The outcomes range from academic reports and publications at the initial stages, through small niche products in the early stages, to the potential for fully fledged volume products in the future. The accumulation of knowledge at each stage can ensure that the ongoing

Figure 3.12 Innovation trees – sustaining indefinite growth

Continuous innovation Transferable knowledge Final outcome s me



Single outcome s me



im s er me Int tco ou

im s er me Int tco ou

ne y n O log esig no d ch + te


Staged gateway

Finite staged gateway

Indefinite staged gateway

Towards design-led continuous innovation


Travelling light




hy dr




hw ay

Continuous innovation

Researc h publi


k edbac

User fe Media fe

Media pu


edbac k k edbac

User fe Researc h feedb


Researc h spino

r trike b powe Pedica icles) (3 veh

r trike b powe Pedica icles) (3 veh

ff k edbac

User fe

r trike b powe Pedica icles) (3 veh

Indefinite staged gateway project, although high on risk and speculation, is conducted through a measured, informed process. Continuous innovation in context To propose that Microcab fits with a long-term pattern of continuous innovation requires a context in relation to other generic forms of innovation. Figure 3.13 explores continuous innovation in relation to the combined breadth and speed of the innovation context/process. Whilst the speed and magnitude of an innovation is often determined by the level of resources devoted to it, the inherent and unpredictable pace of technological development is also a factor when several adjacent technologies are involved. Figure 3.15 explores this variable relationship, firstly in terms of conventional design-led product/service innovation, where typically a ‘me-too’ approach results in incremental innovation and designs which are essentially variations on an existing theme, and where archetypes flourish. The bulk of products and services for the consumer market are made up of this simple innovation type, where, if technology is a factor, it is of the off-the-shelf variety. This narrow-focus innovation is rapid, and a lack of formal design protection means that first-to-market (and high initial price) is the order of the day; fashion products mirror this approach. The Sony Walkman was typical of the genre, innovative for its time, with unique design-led product architecture, but exploiting only established technologies that minimised the need for lengthy complex R&D. Such design represents a significant model for rapid narrow-focus innovation, alongside aesthetic variation and incremental design advances.

Figure 3.13 The Microcab innovation tree and feedback loops

In contrast, in complex design-led innovation developing technology is a major component of the process, but is treated as a semi-independent entity, such as a car engine; or, the technology development is characterised as incremental— one element in a rapid process—because it is associated with significant ongoing investment in a highly competitive market, like the automotive trade. Design- and technology-led product/service innovation, on the other hand, tends to be more protracted – research and development, though narrowly focussed on individual products or technologies, tend to be time-consuming and relate to the unpredictable time frame associated with invention and ‘design-led invention’ such as Dyson’s early cleaners. Design-led innovation is difficult to define and the line between the converse invention-led design is more problematic; it has to do with starting points and the nature of the dominant innovation driver. If the starting point is a basic invention which determines the nature of the product or service and distinguishes it from other products or provides unique capabilities, then it is an invention-led design. For example, Dyson’s cleaner utilised the invention of a cyclonic separation system. Initial design work focussed on optimising the performance of this electro-mechanical system, then productionising it. However, differentiating between design-led invention and the reverse is possibly a pedantic academic exercise. More usefully, the inclusive terminology: ‘design- and technology-led product/service innovation’ covers the territory. In relation to the three innovation strands identified, the territory associated with Microcab is: design-led continuous innovation albeit with a strong technological content, which characterises projects comprising protracted varied R&D programmes. In terms of the quoted examples, Dyson cleaners can be considered narrow-focus


Travelling light

Figure 3.14 The completed Microcab H2EV – a four-seat, multi-purpose vehicle, launched in 2011. Microcab can be used as a car, light van or taxi, optimising flexible design outcomes in relation to the DLCI model



but continuous because of their concentration on individual products, albeit supported by long-term technological development. The Sony Walkman was a rapid but narrow-focus innovation, because of its use of existing technologies in a radical design format. A typical mass-market vehicle relies heavily on incremental change within a broad technological focus. Microcab within limited resources but with a concentration on product and infrastructure (fuel supply) can be considered continuous and broad-focussed and hence representative of the DLCI model. Concluding but continuing Some of the reasons for the slow progression of the development and application of alternative clean fuel technologies with outcomes such as Microcab are found in the salutary unfolding this last decade in the United States of the rise and fall of solar cell industry leader Solyndra, outlined in the article by Juliet Eilperin “Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust” (In Wired Magazine | The profound fuel price impact of fracking technology is highlighted, but that is only one, highly controversial, answer to a sustainable future. There is a requirement incumbent upon us all to invest in the work of contemporary designers, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and inventors to work in tandem investigating and developing any number of alternative solutions for our planet, for the well-being of future generations, our grandchildren and beyond. Design innovation is traditionally characterised by a rapid ‘new-ideasto-market’ approach, frequently focussed on isolated products or services, incremental in nature and swift to deliver. In contrast, complex disruptive or n W alk


t ke ar e s-m icl as h M ve


Figure 3.15 Design-led continuous innovation – rapid/lengthy or narrow/broad

Complex design-led innovation

Design- and technology-led product/service innovation




Design-led product/ service innovation





icr o


nc so




radical technological innovation is often protracted; research and development can require complex collaboration, technological convergence, in-depth strategic research, specialist resources and multiple investments. This resource demand often ensures that such technological innovation is restricted to corporate conglomerates rather than SMEs. There are exceptions, particularly in digital and social media, where disruptive innovation has been kick-started from a relatively low resource base – Zuckerberg’s Facebook student project being a notable but unusual example. However, most non-digital disruptive innovations are considerably more resource hungry. Paradoxically, large enterprises with extensive committed resources are often disinclined to pursue disruptive innovation which might threaten their chosen trajectory, preferring to pursue competitive incremental innovation, often within the fixed parameters of robust design formats. It follows that some radical innovation can only find a development home within a more flexible, less resource-hungry SME context. The drawback is that SMEs have restricted access to the technological and design capacity and to the facilitybased resources required to deliver complex innovation. Such resources can be provided by universities, classically within an engineering or applied science context. This is acceptable when a ‘pure’ technological innovation is required, for example a performance-related subcomponent. But where a user-based innovation is the focus, this exclusive concentration on the technological domain can inhibit reference to the user domain and introduce arbitrary design decision-making, often bolted on at the back end of the R&D process, at worst as a design afterthought. In contrast, DLCI can contribute design thinking at any, or all, stages of the technological research and development process. This has several advantages:


Travelling light

Figure 3.16 Next steps – Microcab at a hydrogen fuel station at Coventry University – support for the European Hydrogen Super Highway project (SWARM)

93 × × × × × × ×

Woolley continuous feedback loop between the technological focus and shifting user and other design parameters – particularly significant with long-term projects grounded decision-making process which can combine technological and needs assessment a greater potential for interdisciplinary activity brokered through broad-based design leadership clear, communicable tangible design vision that can sustain development over time, and between different resource bases if necessary the use of modelled realities to reinforce the tangible design vision by providing all stakeholders, potential users and the wider world with indicators of potential results – i.e. products, services or systems the ability to envisage and address wider applications and contexts for the above through design/user/market analyses such as identifying niche markets and their particular design requirements the ability to engage with a decision-making process that offers independent objectivity

In combination, these factors can add a unique breadth and clarity of purpose to the innovation process and, importantly, boost the potential of a technological breakthrough, making it more accessible, useful, useable and attractive to potential users. Design can render complex innovations both accessible and understandable. It is no coincidence that the original Dyson ‘cyclone’ technology was both a technological and a design breakthrough, with the metaphorical transparency of the technological mechanism communicated to users through the visual transparency of the product’s container. The benefits for the end user of DLCI relate to a codesign scenario in which design/technology synergies involve user collaboration during the research and development phase of core technologies. × × × ×

The primary advantages of design-led continuous innovation: provides measured responses to gradual change e.g. global resource depletion evaluates, absorbs and contributes to developing knowledge addresses emerging agendas, problems and contexts results in evolutionary design solutions in synch with user aspirations

The continuous relationship between these factors is outlined in Figure 3.17. At the beginning of this article parallels were drawn between the joys of travel, in contrast with the ‘destination’ of innovation. Strategic design, research and development have been identified as the continuous trunk of the ‘innovation tree,’ with branches supporting the ‘fruits’ of tangible designed outcomes, sufficient to facilitate sustainable growth (the trunk being synonymous with the ongoing journey and the branches the staging posts of designed outcomes). In terms of a continuous innovation process, it was considered ‘better to travel than to arrive,’ but in exploring the significance of the DLCI model, with the benefits of continuous innovation taking place outside the mainstream of consumer culture, it is perhaps better to ‘travel and never to arrive.’ A perceived end-game ‘destination’ may artificially limit the potential from growing a core knowledge/practice base with the tangible outcomes that might be achieved en route. Rather than the single-goal, short-term view of innovation, a continuous goal-directed approach should be considered.

redProb efi lem nit io n

Emerging contexts CHANGE

Evolving knowledge

Staged solutions

Research feedback

“In contrast to other, related terms (like knowledge society, which evokes counter terms like ignorance), the term innovation captures the essence of modernity in its iterative dynamic. This expects fractures and continuities, successes and failures. For innovation contains a self-fulfilling prophecynamely that only further innovations will provide the means to master the problems that innovation also creates. This circularity is solidified by the proof adduced by innovative achievements and in this way opens the present for a fragile future.”14


n sig s Deroces p

The potential leadership role of design in this model, given its inherent flexibility, interdisciplinary and synergy capacities, would provide a robust vision rather than an endproduct, deploying staged modelled realities to address periodic change, test design outcomes and connect the long-term vision with tangible design outcomes. The environment for this model can be a visionary network, comprising universities, SMEs, contractors and other collaborators, supported by a range of funding agencies and collaborative, rather than competitive, interests. In short, this DLCI model combines visionary ambition with practical evolution – Microcab encapsulates and embodies this reality and demonstrates how DLCI is uniquely equipped to address the complex demands of our “fragile future;’’ as Nowotny suggests:

Travelling light

Figure 3.17 Design-led innovation as a continuum 14

Nowotny, Helga; Cohen, Mitch (Translator). Insatiable Curiosity: Innovation in a Fragile Future. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2008, p. 142.

95 REFERENCES Bierut, M. 2007. 79 Short Essays on Design. New York, NY, USA: Princeton Architectural Press, p. 218. Bessant, J. 2009. The Future of Innovation is Challenging the Frontier of Innovation, p. 42. Stamm, Bettina von (Editor); Trifilova, Anna (Editor). Future of Innovation. Farnham, Surrey, GBR: Ashgate Publishing Group, 2009. Cruickshank, L. 2010. The Innovation Dimension: Designing in a Broader Context. Design Issues, 26, 2, pp. 17–26. Dyson, J. 2010. Ingenious Britain making the UK the leading high tech exporter in Europe. Available at: other-publications/ingeniousbritain.pdf. p. 34. Dyson, J. 2010. Ingenious Britain making the UK the leading high tech exporter in Europe. Available at: other-publications/ingeniousbritain.pdf. p. 42. Eilperin, J. 2012 Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust. Wired Magazine | Eilperin J. (@eilperin) is the national environmental reporter for The Washington Post and the author of Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks. Manu, A. 2010. Disruptive Business : Desire, Innovation and the Re-design of Business, Farnham, Surrey, England; Burlington, VT: Gower, p. 74. Nowotny, H.; Cohen, M. (Translator) 2008. Insatiable Curiosity: Innovation in a Fragile Future. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2008, p. 142. Nowotny, H.; Cohen, M. (Translator) 2008. Insatiable Curiosity: Innovation in a Fragile Future. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2008, p. 168. Nussbaum, B. 2011. Getting Schooled in Innovation. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Available

Woolley at: dnflash/jan2005/nf2005013_8303.htm. Saje, A. 2009 The Future of Innovation is After the Watershed, p. 60. Stamm, Bettina von (Editor); Trifilova, Anna (Editor). The Future of Innovation. Farnham, Surrey, GBR: Ashgate Publishing Group, 2009, p. 88. Strauss, Fuad-Luke 2008. The Slow Design Principles. A new interrogative and Reflexive Tool for Design Research and Practice, Cipolla, Carla and Pier Paolo Peruccio, eds. Changing the change proceedings. [Torino]: Allemandi Conference Press, 2008, p 134. Tovey, M. 2010. The Design and Development of Microcab. DRS 2010 Montreal. Montreal, Canada, p. 117. Available at: PDF/117.pdf. MAPPING INNOVATION – DIAGRAMS The 10 Diagrams are original thinking produced and copyrighted by Professor Martin Woolley.


The way we innovate needs innovation



The way we innovate needs innovation Cordy Swope, Studiomem

“Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.” — Eric Hoffer. Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

The “Do You Know” ritual Martha’s Vineyard is a small island off of Cape Cod where much of the ruling elite of the United States spend summer holidays. Presidents occasionally vacation there, as do celebrities and Wall Street hedge fund managers. It was as an awkward teenager among the elite families of Martha’s Vineyard that I first encountered the highly mannered ritual of making social small talk. The ritual was called, “Do you know...?”

“Do you know…?” went something like this,

“Oh, you go to Choate, do you know Chad Simpson?” “Sure, he graduated a year ahead of me, now he is at Dartmouth.” “Oh, Dartmouth, do you know Ashley Garfield?” “Um, no.”

“I know her from squash camp; I heard that Chad and Ashley have been dating for almost a year.” “Oh really. I haven’t seen Chad since he graduated, but maybe you know Baron Hopkins from squash camp?” “Of course, his sister is one of my best friends.” “No way!” “Way!” And so on. “Do you know…?” was a ritual practiced among social circles of teenagers in small groups, their parents at cocktail parties and enshrined in books like the annually produced Social Register.1 Many years later, once blogging technology had become widely available, the underlying memes of “do you know…?” were exploited by some clever undergraduates at Harvard and then formally launched as Facebook. Of course any business person or software expert, and probably Mark Zuckerberg himself, would claim that Facebook emerged and grew through a series of shrewd business and technological decisions, but the incorporation of the “do you know?” meme comprises much of the core proposition that makes Facebook the addictive experience and disruptive innovation it is today. Clayton Christensen defines disruptive innovation as that which takes what is expensive, scarce and used exclusively by experts, and makes it affordable enough for a mass audience. He offers the example of the personal computer disrupting the mainframe computer. Facebook created disruption by cheaply delivering to the masses a social experience once previously enjoyed only by an elite, East Coast caste. Zuckerberg simply recontextualized the existing, banal behavior of that caste into a new, addictive way of socializing for everyone. If an idea can create a new business that makes use of cheap technology and existing, banal behavior more profitably, it has the power to disrupt anything. But understanding disruptive innovation is not the same as practicing it. The innovation industry’s growing pains Innovation is a new field. It is full of experts of all kinds who appear to know many things about it. They write academic papers about innovation, present a lot of insightful case studies on it, trademark and teach seminars on various tools and methods of innovation to big organizations, and speak at conferences about it. However, there are comparatively few people and organizations that actually practice innovation consistently. Up until recently, innovation of any kind had not been a desirable organizational goal. In the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s, most companies devoted themselves to wringing out every last cent of earnings via cost-cutting, value-engineering and other euphemisms for down-sizing, in order to enable the blockbuster mergers and acquisitions that characterized that period. Anything “disruptive” (and hence, a risky investment that might create waste) was anathema to this effort. Corporate raiders want lean, mean corporate machines – stripping assets, selling them on at a profit. This is still the preferred business modus operandi in most large companies today. Typically achieved through the recommendations of major management consultants, (in a combination of exploiting cheap, natural resources and chasing


The way we innovate needs innovation


http:// www.socialregisteronline. com/#!about-us.



even cheaper labor around the globe while shedding expensive labor at home) companies have pursued attractive balance sheets. While this time-honored method is one way to optimize, all companies have found that there is a limit to how much efficiency can be wrung out of operations. While downsizing, or more diplomatically, “right-sizing” is still widely practiced today, the practice has been unable to create any significant new value since at least the mid-90s if it ever really did so in the first place. The other inevitable consequence of continuous “right-sizing” is cheap, shoddy—and thus less competitive—goods and services over time. Looking around the business environment since the turn of the millennium, many CEOs have asked with increasing urgency, “well who IS making money these days?” and more importantly, “HOW are they making money?” The companies who have made money since then have been ones in which there has been a commitment to, and a track record of – innovation. The cases of a revitalized Apple under Steve Jobs, or new players like Google under Sergei Bryn and Larry Page have demonstrated that the way to value creation and bigger profits is through innovation – the conception and commercialization of new ideas. The cultural and operational roles of “innovation” in those companies have since been meticulously studied, analyzed and widely emulated by many other organizations today. In the past 10 years, we have seen the word innovation make its way from use within a small coterie of product designers, to becoming a business management buzzword, to becoming a growth industry both within consulting and in corporate divisions. Today, “Innovation” has created thousands of individual job titles in corporations, universities and governments, and, in some cases, designates whole departments of organizations. At any given moment, there are now over 96,000 positions available in the US alone that have “innovation” in the job titles. And on LinkedIn, a casual search reveals over 23,000 people with the word “Innovation” already in their job titles. Despite all of the hype around innovation, and the proliferation of smart people working in it, why has innovation not become the new normal? Whispered within the project spaces of even the world’s most recognized innovation consultancies is the sobering estimate that only about 20–30% of its ideas ever go to market – an even smaller proportion of those will ever achieve something resembling “success.” Why is there such a high (and presumably, expensive) failure rate? Some firms like Doblin Group estimate that 96% of all new innovations fail to return their cost of capital, while Booz Allen Hamilton reports that 66% of new products fail within the first two years of launch. And as consumers, given all of this innovation, why have we yet to experience an entirely new world of competitors in every industry category that offers us revolutionary new products and services that profoundly change our lives like those of Apple or Google? How is it that we have innovated our way into (but not yet out of) big problems like the global financial crisis – which was arguably brought on by innovation within derivative financial products in the first place? One response is that while innovation has become a strategic growth imperative for every organization today, it is uniformly practiced—even by many of the top 100 most innovative companies in the world—within the boundaries of antiquated, 19th century structures and business models, which prevent new ideas from emerging into the marketplace.

I have been an innovation practitioner for 18 years, which predates the business buzzword phase. During that time, I could choose to work under one of two models: either as part of an internal, corporate team, or as an external consultant. By way of history, internal innovation teams (loosely defined) have been around for as long as there have been corporate entities, which would place their advent sometime during the Industrial Revolution more than 200 years ago. Consulting in its modern form can trace its lineage directly back to the formation of Arthur Little consulting in 1886. While there has been optimization within these two models in recent years, such as internal employees allotted a percentage of free time to innovate as in Google’s widely trumpeted 10% KPI, or some consultancies that create success incentives around standard consulting fees, the fundamental structure for practicing and achieving innovation remain: internal employees or external consultants. In theory, each of these models provide logical on-ramps to achieve innovation outcomes; in light of the challenges facing the world and business today, however, they are beginning to look overmatched. Structural limitations of innovation’s 19 th century business models The past five years have seen a proliferation of seminars, training programs and re-organizations of internal teams, all oriented toward innovation. A big problem with internal teams, no matter how many times they try and fail, is a lack of outside perspective: they believe only what their internal culture permits them to believe, and not what is actually true outside of the boundaries of their own organization. At the same time, the world is filling up rapidly with innovation consultants, gurus, experts and thought leaders who all claim to have the answer to any innovation challenge. However, these outsiders are never able to fully deliver their answer because they will always be external, and thus only accountable for delivering recommendations that point to, or scenarios that depict possible solutions, which are worlds apart from a real, implemented solution. Both internal teams and outside consultants, ironically, have what the other lacks – accountability and perspective, respectively. But over time, those benefits have become shrouded in politics and mistrust. Before we go about challenging these two obsolete, 19th century business models, it is important to understand how their structural limitations continue to limit innovation today. From practical experience, the following examines the practical shortcomings of the two most common business models charged with delivering innovative, new offerings for existing organizations. A third and important model, venture-backed start-ups, will be treated separately, as this model by definition forms a new organization with the ability to determine its own governing structure. Structural limitation 1: internal team culture change

“Trying to innovate in a large corporation is like trying to change the fan belt with the engine running.” — Gary DiCamillo, turnaround specialist and former CEO of Polaroid Corporation


The way we innovate needs innovation



Big corporations are set up not to innovate. In fact, there is a growing pile of evidence to suggest that most big corporations are better off looking outside of their own walls to innovate. Innovation fundamentally requires carefully assembled teams of people with multi-disciplinary perspectives, and most corporations traditionally prize homogeneity. Truly different perspectives are almost universally absent in most corporate cultures because, as corporations grow, they hire the same types of people over and over again (just look at how many “innovation” job descriptions include an “MBA preferred” line item) in order to slot them into scalable, operational roles to ensure operational consistency. It is this repetition of hiring the same sorts of people over and over again that creates what is called a “corporate culture.” And like any culture, a “corporate culture” is governed by a set of agreed-upon attributes, behaviors and visions of the world. Many a “corporate culture” will believe itself to be unique. However, this is often only an aspiration to uniqueness – comprised mainly of superficial brand attributes displayed in the context of competition. From the standpoint of a disinterested outsider, most “corporate cultures” are largely indistinguishable across competitive sets because they chase after similar objectives using similar people and practices. Pharmaceutical companies tend to have scientific cultures. Technology companies tend to have geek cultures. Universities have academic cultures. Design companies have creative cultures and so on. Many people often change jobs within competitive sets relatively easily, which further indicates that corporate cultures are not unique. While an identifiable “corporate culture” can be useful in rallying an organization to operationally deliver on its core value proposition, the cultural sameness within these internal teams hinders their ability to create new-to-theworld, disruptive offers. A significant cultural hurdle to disruptive innovation is that corporations are generally unable to justify hiring candidates with diverging perspectives because they are seen as being “not a cultural fit.” Meanwhile, under continual pressure to deliver profit and organic growth, CEOs in recent years have designated internal Innovation Departments. They typically appoint a Vice-President or Director of Innovation, charged with “making us more innovative.” Directors of Innovation spend their time evangelizing the value of innovation and disseminating new tools and methods of innovation across the company. If the appointment is done well, there will be substantial capital and political investment from leadership in assembling an innovation team to support the Director and the initiative. The team fans out across the silos of the organization, “matrixing” its way to innovation success, while leading a big culture change initiative to meet the CEO’s mandate of “making us more innovative.” A good result would be to fill the organization’s pipeline with many new ideas, a handful of which will then find their way to market, and a subset of those launched ideas will achieve some degree of success. This would then affect the culture, because as a market success becomes a case study, a case study becomes a story that binds the culture together around a new set of common beliefs and standards. Once these new common beliefs and standards are codified, they become operating principles and best practices and thus repeatable. Obviously, such initiatives need longer than the typical quarterly profit cycle—about two years minimum—to take effect, and if they work, they can be successful in achieving some kind of success about 10–15% of the time that they

are undertaken, depending on the existing corporate culture and the competence of those charged with leading the initiative. These are not very good odds. And yet, such is the gulf between CEO expectations and marketplace success that culture change innovation initiatives need to yield both “quick wins” in the short term while setting up a culture and an infrastructure for continuous innovation in the long term. On the other hand, if the Director of Innovation role is handled poorly, it usually results in one person with a mandate, but with no team, budget or authority to affect the desired change. A Director of Innovation appointment of this type often fails because it tends to be treated as yet another internal corporate silo, which must justify itself to other silos (e.g. financial, sales, and operational) right away. This is a normal consequence of any re-structuring: from one set of silos to another. When this happens, an Innovation Department will typically be the first division eliminated when times get tough. So organizationally speaking, the traditional logic of re-organizing through setting up a specific “Department of Innovation” misses the point of innovation. Innovation fundamentally challenges the silo structure, so it is absurd to try to delineate it as a silo in the first place. Some believe that the corresponding absurdity of the Director of Innovation’s role should mean that it can only be a transient one. As Scott Berkin writes in his blog entry, “Questioning VPs of Innovation,”

“The only sensible angle for a VP of Innovation to take is to dedicate oneself (sic) to eliminating the need for his/her (sic) role. Any large company started somewhere, and started with innovation and new ideas. The VP’s goal then is recovery: to help teams rediscover the environments and attitudes they once had about new ideas, reintroducing risk taking and creative dialog, and then getting out of their way.”2

Berkin’s logic of eliminating the role of Director of Innovation is admirable: once a company is innovative again, there is no longer any need to do anything innovative to its structure. But this would suggest that innovation is a temporary requirement until an organization somehow returns to the halcyon days of operational efficiency and harvesting revenue from a limitless boom market, which of course, is fantasy. Innovation never stops. What Berkin’s opinion also does not consider is that almost all large corporations were initiated through the “innovation and new ideas” of its founders, who are now presumably either in the C-suite managing profits or cashed out and living on a yacht—but no longer creating new ideas and going to market with them— except, significantly, Apple’s Steve Jobs. Big companies were certainly not founded by the same teams of underlings who would presumably “rediscover the environments and attitudes they once had about new ideas.” In my experience, these teams have never operated in an innovative environment in the first place. They were the “MBA preferred” hires – basically operational associates who were brought in to replicate what already worked in the company in order to achieve scale. As such, for these people there is nothing to “recover” about innovation or new ideas, since there is typically little in their backgrounds to suggest that they have ever been able to create and commercialize an original idea: they, in addition to a large swathe of many Fortune 500 CEOs with good operational skills, must learn how to innovate from scratch.


The way we innovate needs innovation


http://www. scottberkun. com/blog/2006/ questioning-vpsof-innovation/.



Any innovation initiative in a large company is virtually always decided at the senior management level. Most people at this level have preconceptions of what they want, and therefore an inability to process, or believe in the unexpected. From the point of view of many Innovation Directors, there is a paradox about leadership in many cases: Leaders initiate an innovation program, but cannot tolerate its outcomes. So there is actually an enormous void for Directors of Innovation to fill through mentoring, coaching and directing innovation projects; however, most large organizations are limited in that they are hopelessly homogenous and are led by CEOs who might be great at operations, but out of their depth in being able to tolerate the uncertainty that comes with developing new ideas. Their people typically have either only narrow industry knowledge or specific operational knowledge and are drawn from narrow talent pools of few disciplines. While almost every corporate culture is homogenous within its category, each one is as unique as a snowflake when it comes to the constellation of personalities in its management. Imagine that the CEO has type “A” personality and has a group of C-level people that are 2XA, 2XB, 1XC, 1XD, which are distributed among 6 roles. Already the possible combinations are large, and if adding in the next level of management, the available combinations become exponentially larger. These personality constellations, more than processes or traditional culture, strongly drive how decisions are made in any organization. They determine the organizational mindset and its risk tolerance. These constellations of C-level personalities are both terribly difficult for a consultant to understand and terribly difficult for an internal team to navigate. It is not just the complex constellation of personalities at C-Level, but a prevailing sense that the fact that these people are neither prepared nor practiced in handling innovation decisions is likely what accounts for a lot of failure. Innovation is not considered by most organizations as a core business practice in the same sense as “sales,” “operations” or “quality,” and frequent bad decisions are the result. While many companies claim innovation as a core competence, few really live up to it, especially when doing so can often threaten the realization of shortterm profits. Like any self-perpetuating system in action, a large organization quickly achieves efficiency by promoting convergent thought while eliminating divergent thought: a choice whose consequence is that it is structurally deficient in having enough divergent thought necessary to generate any innovation – let alone true disruption, on its own. Structural limitation 2: consultants

“A consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time, and then keeps your watch.”

— Carl Ally3 When the monocultures within most big corporations suffocate innovation enough, a logical option for worried leaders is to turn to a fresh perspective for help: Enter the consultant. Consultants offer the benefit of fresh perspectives through the experience of having worked on multiple engagements across different industries and


http://www. barrypopik. com/index.php/ new_york_city/ entry/a_consultant_is_someone_who_borrows_your_watch_ to_tell_you_the_ time_and_the/.

organizations. Good consultants are often hired as much for their “perspective” as for their output. Like bees who cross-pollinate, consultants can bring best practices from other industries in order to solve problems for their clients. Consultants also work quickly mostly because of the relatively high cost of engaging them, but they are still attractive because there is less long-term financial commitment on the part of client companies. Consultants also serve the time-honored purpose of being the external change agents that lend outside perspective and validation to new initiatives required to do innovation. This can be both beneficial and destructive to big organizations depending on the situation. As the consulting industry has grown since the 19th century, an increasingly diverse array of more services, methods and efficiencies have become part of its repertoire. Today, however, almost all consultancies of any scale are squeezed by the need to make their numbers to remain viable. The costs associated with hiring and retaining people as well as the opportunity costs of both selling work in a crowded marketplace—to say nothing of the costs of doing it, and then marketing its successes—force consultancies to create more efficiencies and economies of scale. A large innovation consultancy wrings out profit from taking smart shortcuts, particularly in resourcing cheaper, junior people, reusing content, and opaque, margin-based pricing. A larger innovation consultancy also will typically grow out of the business of delivering “agency” work altogether such as designing physical products, services or messaging – in favor of a more “consulting” offer: delivering “strategy.” While smaller consultants might manage their businesses less efficiently than larger ones, smaller consultants, like start-ups, are often more apt to over-deliver, because their goals are more aligned with the content of the project. The main reason why consultants grow into the more lucrative field of providing strategic services—and thus have reason to believe that their role in the world is more crucial than being simply a vendor—is mostly due to the deficiencies of their clients that are revealed through working with them. For instance, when I was interviewing before being hired at Continuum in the mid-90s, I had a conversation with Gianfranco Zaccai, its President, during which I asked him, “Why would you hire someone like me – I am neither a functioning, billable designer, nor an engineer.” “Come with me,” he said, as he took me to a small anteroom in the studio and opened a drawer full of old prototypes. “These were beautiful products that we designed that never went to market because they were designed—unbeknownst to us—under the wrong brief.” He continued, “We want to build a capability that looks deeply at the problem behind the problem, and then designs the right brief, because we have learned the hard way that no matter how big the opportunity, how beautiful the design, or how robust the engineering, great ideas serving the wrong brief do not succeed.” This conversation led to my hiring and our building of Continuum’s Design Strategy Group, a multi-disciplinary team whose purpose was to understand the people, physics, products and profit models around clients’ challenges, so that any solution that we designed would be both relevant to consumers and profitable for our clients. Once hired, I was one of the roughly five people in the world who had “Design Strategist” printed on my business card. We were viewed then as suspect – as temporary actors who were fashion victims of some


The way we innovate needs innovation



wayward management trend. There are today over 1,750 design strategists in the US alone according to LinkedIn. What struck me about that exchange with Gianfranco, in retrospect, was his willingness to learn and act from even his firm’s harshest disappointments. The amount of sweat, craft and love that went into that drawer of old, beautiful, unimplemented prototypes was probably incalculable in both financial and human terms. And yet, the humility to learn and the courage to act from the disappointment of having one’s best efforts fail, while somehow maintaining passion to still find ways to create impact in the world, is what separates true innovation leaders from everyone else. One main reason why consultants fail is precisely why they are hired in the first place: it is their “otherness” – they are not part of the organization. The Continuum story of receiving the wrong brief is merely the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, the entire business model that underpins any consulting engagement fundamentally precludes the consultant from being anything other than a vendor in the creation of, yet rarely in the commercialization of, new ideas. Many consultants will claim that they are “partners” with their clients, but even the most prestigious ones are not if they are operating under a fee-forservice business model. That supposed “partnership” is based solely on a business contract. Once the ‘fee-meter’ stops running, the project ends, regardless of how far the consultant has driven the project. The ‘fee-meter’ invariably stops running long before an innovation is market ready. Any consultancy, even the nicest, most caring or creative one, is ultimately in business for itself, and cannot give away its work for free. And the structure of practically every consulting engagement guarantees that the consultant will never be around long enough to shepherd an idea through to fruition. It is not the quality of people, nor even the quality of work that creates so much failure. It is the underlying fee-for-service business model that governs consulting which is the main reason why many of the most reputable innovation consultants fail to get their ideas to the market roughly 70–75% of the time. There are no best practices, only next practices Having worked side by side with some of the world’s most famous management consultants who operate by codified “best practices,” my experience is that most successful innovation “practices,” “tools” or “methods” by definition are nothing but deviations and workarounds that avoid the status quo. And yet, ironically through the dubious machinery of management consulting practices, many features of the practice of innovation have now been codified into best practices. But this codification is less than useful. Take for example the role of failure in innovation. Failure’s role is often distorted amid noise and innovation hype. For instance, the US business media often promotes the “celebration” of failure because of the old trope about “failing fast to succeed.” In America, such propaganda is misleading in that it effectively promotes a suspicious, blanket acceptance of failure and allows a lot of wasteful behavior off the hook. This behavior, particularly in the venture capital start-up community, has become so pervasive as to be parodied, “We steal your data,” claims’s spoof.4 On the other hand, particularly in the corporations of Europe, failure is so unthinkable that it is guarded against in many different ways. It is ignored. It is prevented through extreme risk avoidance. It is frequently assigned to consultants, who,


http://vooza. com/.

in a pinch, provide a convenient neck on which to hang the failure sign. (Consultants are just as often used to justify the firing of “underperforming” employees.) But none of these approaches to failure are particularly useful because they do not seek to learn, grow or benefit from any of the work that went into it. Creators lose time, sleep, or worse a sense of purpose if something big fails. Investors lose money. And yet, with respect to the idea of failure in the practice of innovation, the German term aufheben, which is difficult to translate, but in a certain context means “to cancel, retain and elevate” is a better aspiration for innovation teams than mindlessly follow a best practice of “fail fast and often.” The concept of “failure” as an innovation principle needs updating. Failure should rather be considered a condition that persists until the process of experimentation, reflection, learning and re-creating have gone through enough cycles to distill it out of an idea. Innovation practiced in this way is a big commitment. Mike Hatrick, Director of Innovation at SwissLog, a global warehouse and logistics company, sums it up, “It often feels to me that many in this field we work in are striving to write the definitive text book about ‘how to innovate’ in the same manner as somebody did for Lean, Six Sigma and others. I have always had the gut feeling (and frankly, hope) that such a thing would never be successfully achieved…innovation as a practice is something that will always evolve and reinvent itself ” (email interview). Play things for reinventing innovation practice If we accept that the pursuit of some form of “growth” is essential for the social, financial and personal well-being of people and organizations throughout the world, then, far from being a passing fad, innovation is likely to be considered an increasingly essential survival skill. If we also accept that the traditional business models of practicing innovation are at best limited, and at worst, obsolete then it is both desirable and useful to experiment with new ways of structuring how we do innovation in the future. Our children will need to socially and culturally assimilate the tools and methods of innovation to deal with a world that will be changing even more rapidly than it is today. While the client/consulting model will persist, its limitations present many questions: What might we cancel, retain and elevate after this 100+ year experiment with the business model of internal teams and external consultants? As in any generative endeavor, one never starts with a completely blank slate. In fact, innovation practitioners from different sides of the client/consultant divide, and start-up entrepreneurs of all types have accumulated many valuable assets on which to build new business models for innovation practice. To answer the challenges we face in the future, there is a compelling case to reformulate how we innovate using what we can cancel, retain and elevate from what we know already. Here are four alternative models that form a potential basis of experimenting with new ways of structuring innovation projects, activities and organizations. Each one has had success within specific contexts, but has yet to be widely practiced. Skunk works Skunk works is a small group of people who work on a project in an unconventional way. The group’s purpose is to develop something quickly with minimal


The way we innovate needs innovation



management constraints. Skunk works are often used to initially roll out a product or service that thereafter will be developed according to usual business processes. The term ‘skunk works’ was first introduced during World War II by engineers at Lockheed Corporation who later copyrighted it. The most famous example of a skunk-works project from that time was the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic weapon. Although people have speculated that the name was inspired by the poor hygiene habits of overworked employees, it was, in fact, taken from the moonshine factory in a cartoon series called “Li’l Abner.” Flexibility, speed and limited managerial oversight are the three characteristics that make a skunk-works team effective. Street / B.O.P. Away from the mainstream homogeneity of mass-market culture, the developing world and the street cultures of the world’s largest cities create their own ways of innovating, often under unique financial or social constraints. From the Aravind Eye Hospital in India, which has performed over four million eye surgeries for free or at a low cost, to a mobile phone shop in Ghana, which can quickly make cheap, low-cost mobile phones that enable easy mobile banking and other transactions, to the invention of hip-hop and sampling culture at block parties in the South Bronx, pragmatism in answering different human needs with clever ideas makes this model of innovation effective and a great source of inspiration. Just-ship-it aka Agile aka Business-in-Beta The design and development of complex software systems has been transformed in recent years through relentless experimentation by developers, usually done in the market and in real time. One of the mantras that has emerged from the agile movement is “just ship it” meaning that a small slice of a complete system is developed and released while subsequent efforts are devoted to both releasing complimentary elements and to optimizing what has already been released. How might other companies in other industries gain inspiration from this methodology? A closely related, emerging idea from the start-up environment is of “business in beta” – the sense that a company should launch into the market quickly and modestly, and then use market learning to iterate its offer over time. This also begins to open up some interesting questions. If the old way was to build a product for an audience and then try to sell it to them, then business in beta is about building a conversation with an audience through a product or service while recognizing that the conversation will help make the product or service more relevant over time. The ability to release and converse with real customers quickly and in real time is what makes “just-ship-it” effective on a number of levels. Can aspects of it be applied to industry sectors that are stuck in the same way of developing new offers? Academic R&D partnerships The commercial revenue cycle is as fast as it is relentless. Companies often have neither the time nor the appetite for risk that innovation requires. Consultants offer some help in this regard, but also work under very tight schedules, thus making it difficult to create truly new-to-the-world innovation – let alone unique intellectual property. Technical universities like MIT, the Frauenhofer Institute in Germany and many others have long provided consulting services that seek to fill

this R&D time/cost void. They offer the advantage of greater depth and breadth over the traditional, commercial models of innovation – provided sponsors have time and budget to wait for breakthrough outcomes. This approach has a much slower time-to-market than typical commercial schedules, and during that time potentially disruptive ideas can ferment and gain more potency than ones that have to perform by the next profit reporting cycle. Toward new models Let us say that most organizations in the next several years will have pipelines filling up with exciting projects and initiatives. As this happens, there is an acute need to manage resources, budgets and the quality of innovation throughout the organization. Filtering ideas, defining projects and even killing initiatives have rapidly become more important than even having ideas in the first place. What are the best philosophies, strategies and tools for how to optimize the innovation work of any organization? Common challenges include: stakeholder management; setting up and managing a sustainable innovation pipeline; filtering ideas; getting the most out of pilots; going to market effectively; assigning key roles/responsibilities to innovation leadership, and balancing the right innovation and operational KPIs for everyone else. There have been some early experiments with consortium models, i.e. a consortium—or partnership—comprised of innovation leaders drawn from noncompeting industries that is part of a powerful resource that can both identify and overcome the most significant challenges to successfully innovate. Such a consortium—rather than funded by consulting fees—could be sustained through a model that looks more like a corporate membership. Through corporate membership, and bringing along its biggest innovation challenges, an organization could send representatives to the consortium. The consortium, comprised of innovation leaders from other industries, also contribute their biggest innovation challenges as they take the challenges of the other members aboard, and together build the mission-critical projects, initiatives and outcomes that respond to these challenges and create tangible value in so doing. Consortium members would then be equipped with the strategies, tools, methods, project outputs, resources and management oversight they need to successfully answer these pressing challenges in their organizations. There is a benefit in comparing internal challenges (from internal teams who know the terrain) but doing so from an external point of view (and thus creating a proxy for the external perspective of a consultant). This model has the potential to be a much more efficacious and cost-effective investment in innovation than hiring any consultant. At the same time, because internal teams would drive it, perhaps with some light facilitation from the outside, ideas are better positioned to succeed within the organization. This model is an example of one that mixes elements of skunk works and academic partnerships to overcome the limitations of the traditional clientconsultant model. Experimenting under this model is Claro Partners, a relatively new consultancy based in Barcelona and co-founded by Rich Radka and Aldo de Jong. Claro is founded on the vision of creating cross-industry innovation consortia. One of their recent consortium projects investigated the shift from traditional services delivered


The way we innovate needs innovation



monolithically by stand-alone companies unto passive customers, to an emerging model of participatory services in which individuals and organizations act as an open network to co-generate and exchange value for all actors. To explore this disruption, Claro collaborated with three companies that operate in non-competing industries: BBVA (banking), Vodafone (telecommunications), and Intel (semiconductors). As a consortium, the group had a wider than single-industry perspective on the issues of services, customer participation, and network-enabled business, as well as relevant take-aways for their organizations. Has this been done before? In a workshop on Business Model Generation in Helsinki in 2011, Alexander Osterwalder took a quick survey of new business model ideas and common objections to them. He heard that the most common objection to a different business model is: “Has this been done before?” In looking at the entire history of successful innovation, the only constant has been that ideas that have not worked before ultimately can work given the right context. “Has this been done before?” is really rather beside the point – and should probably not be a criterion for any idea. It is a question that reflects a fear of the future, rather than a healthy disdain for the present. And the irony is that almost everything has been done in some way before, but under endlessly differing conditions and contexts and with varying degrees of success. Only when an idea is carefully orchestrated to work within a specific context does it have the chance to become successful. As we have seen many times, the world is full of innovations that contain many existing elements. The first iPod (which incidentally came a good while after the first mp3 player), when famously dissected on revealed that all of its parts were off-the-shelf: the disruptive genius of the iPod was in how those parts were arranged in the product, and then how the product integrated with a clever business eco-system to deliver a new-to-the-world, disruptively innovative experience. “Do you know…?” existed long before Facebook, but it took the right technology and context to deliver it to the masses and a changing advertising landscape for it to become a multi-billion-dollar business. The iPod and Facebook as innovations succeeded because their creators were confident in knowing that anything they created would be exponentially better than what currently existed. The two biggest barriers to innovation are in accepting the current state at any moment, and then imagining that we can never change it. Acknowledgements Nothing I have ever produced has been accomplished without accomplices. I wish to thank Rich Radka, co-founder of Claro partners, who has been generous with both his time, input and revisions to this article. I have exceeded his patience and yet somehow he puts up with me. Mike Hatrick, Innovation Director at SwissLog, an authority and frequent speaker, who operates at the rock face of internal innovation teams, has provided both warm encouragement and superb insight on how innovation is currently being practiced in large companies. Mark Zeh has been a source of great wisdom in many discussions that have helped me challenge

the prevailing business models around innovation consulting. Ferdi Van Heerden has been a source of inspiration for how to think like an organization would if it could. Dominic Pride of News Cred has been a source of vision, feedback and support. Eric Horwitz, my coach, has been in my corner giving me a steady stream of insight, counsel and support. My business partners Rudolf Voigt and Anne Schlรถsser at studiomem in Munich have to work with me every day on these issues with real clients. And finally I want to thank my wife, Stephanie Schwarz, and our daughters, who make the toil and the ambiguity of a life spent innovating completely and totally worthwhile.


The way we innovate needs innovation

113 Inspiration and relevant tools Cleese, John 1991. A Lecture on Creativity. Video Arts, via YouTube. com/watch?v=ijtQP9nwrQA&feature=pla yer_embedded. Hoffer, Eric 1973. Reflections on the Human Condition. Harper Collins. Houellebecq, Michel 2012. The Map and the Territory. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. IDEO. HCD Toolkit. work/human-centered-design-toolkit/. Isaacson, Walter 2011. Steve Jobs. Little Brown, London. Osterwalder, Alexander and Pigneur, Yves 2010. Business Model Generation. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, USA. Osterwalder, Alexander. Business Model Generator Canvas.



Public innovation labs — A byway to public sector innovation?



Public innovation labs — A byway to public  sector innovation? Sabine Junginger, Design School Kolding

This chapter looks at the role of design in government and, more specifically, in public sector innovation. Governments share with other organizations the notion that design practices, design concepts and design methods are intrinsic at their existence. Although design is rarely articulated, design practices seldom reflected on, and design methods often unconsciously employed, designing does take place every day in the public sector, from policy-making to policy implementation. The concepts of silent designers (Gorb & Dumas 1987) and invisible design (Burckhard 1985, 1995) have been around for several decades. But the significance of design to public-sector innovation has attracted attention only recently. Fewer resources, changing demographics and the growing gap between the haves and have-nots are but a few factors that encourage policy-makers and public managers to look for new roads to innovation. Design, and especially humancentered design, has emerged as a potential key to reach the goal of developing and delivering useful, usable and desirable products and services that contribute to a better, fairer and more just society. Participatory design and user research are making inroads in public organizations because public servants have to engage and enable people to provide more citizen-centric policies and services. Citizen-centric policies and services are not only seen as strengthening the trust of citizens in their government, they are also understood to be more efficient in terms of cost and outcome. Programs, products and services that do not reach the people they are intended for at the right time in the right form and in the right place accumulate cost without outcome. Many caring senior civil servants know that “we [in government] already fail publicly with many of our services and products.”1 They are actively looking for new ways to fail less often. This presents the background for


Comment made by a senior civil servant during the symposium “Human-centered design in government,” April 2013, Hertie School of Governance.

the turn to design in government, which will be the topic of this chapter. We can summarize that policy-makers and public managers find themselves looking for new roads to develop and deliver citizen-centric policies and services that enable people to fulfill their obligations and to enact their rights as citizens. In this search, the characteristics of services present new systemic challenges: Any service provided by any organization is deeply embedded within that organization’s structures and processes (Junginger & Sangiorgi 2009). Services depend on the knowledge and skills of people within the organization who provide that service, and these, in turn, depend on the resources the organization provides to them in order to ensure a smooth service delivery. Due to the systemic characteristics of services, it is not enough to acquire new methods of product development that involve citizens more actively in ongoing design processes. Policy-makers and public managers charged with policy implementation also have to identify, initiate and implement the necessary internal changes within their organizations to support and enable these new design approaches. Moreover, they have to reorganize and manage in ways that can sustain and maintain these new policies and services. The way some governments have begun to approach this problem is to establish public innovation labs. The concept of an “innovation lab” is familiar to businesses and corporations, where such labs provide the space and independence from other organizational constraints to experiment with the latest technologies, methods and trends in industry and society. In the private sector, the purpose of these labs is to discover and invent new products and services to develop new business models and to generate new business opportunities. A particular form of a private innovation lab is the business studio. Rather than leaning on the term “lab,” which connotes a scientific approach as in “laboratory,” business studios seek to distance themselves from a scientific approach and emphasize an artistic, creative approach predominant in artist studios. This studio environment serves businesses as a space for envisioning futures, exploring new forms of collaborations as methods to explore, prototype and develop ideas and concepts into products and business opportunities (Barry & Meisiek 2010).2 The public innovation labs that have been set up by governments in Denmark, France, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States echo the idea of a business studio, though rather than borrowing from art, they tend to replicate the studio environments found in design consultancies. Some of these are situated within specific government agencies (as in the US Office of Personnel Management or the Australian Taxation Office); some have been set up on a national level (as in the UK or France); others are pooled together across different national ministries (such as MindLab in Denmark). Despite the differences in form, resources and location within their respective governments, existing public innovation labs do have in common that they seek to develop new organizational design capabilities and new organizational design practices relevant to policymaking and policy implementation (cp. Carmody 2002; Bason). We find public innovation labs in surprising places, initiated and set up by the very civil servants and bureaucrats who are typically described by innovation experts as “risk averse” and “working in the absence of competitive forces,” “lacking incentives” to engage in change, “deterred” by a proliferation of “red tape” that stifles any hope of innovation (Sahni et al 2013). From an innovation perspective, public innovation labs raise several questions. First and foremost is the question whether public innovation labs do



For more on research into Business Studios informed by art and design, see Barry, D. & Meisiek, S., the Copenhagen Business School Art & Management Leadership Institute (https:// www.facebook. com/

Public innovation labs



indeed provide civil servants and public managers with opportunities to explore new design concepts and experiment with new design practices that can apply to the design of policies and public services. Second, and just as important, is the question of the influences and impacts public innovation labs have on the larger organizational systems they are part of. How does their work inform and contribute to changing the larger system at work? And what challenges do public innovation labs face? These are just some of the questions we need to address in order to understand if and how design presents a potential byway to public-sector innovation. In search for an answer to these questions, the remainder of this chapter will center on the Public Innovation Lab of the US Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. The lab at the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) In the sub-basement of a large federal building in Washington, DC, i.e. in the basement that sits below the actual basement, we find the US Office of Personnel Management (US OPM) Innovation Lab. Hidden in what may be described as the bowels of a massive federal building, a once dull and forgotten room that was stacked from floor to ceiling with cardboard boxes holding thousands of irrelevant retirement files (that have since been scanned) on an endless parade of shelves, has been turned into an innovation space. Created in 2012 as an environment for exploration, inquiry and experimentation, it looks and feels like a design studio. Colorful chairs, large working tables and moveable whiteboards signal that here work is being done differently than upstairs where dark suits and grey cubicles still rule. The US Office of Personnel Management can pride itself for being among the oldest and earliest federal government agencies in America.3 Its founding was a consequence of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which was signed into law in 1883. This act specified that any citizen should be able to work for their government because of the merit of their work and abilities and not because of their political affiliation or their political friends.4 It changed the way of the US government because people who wanted to work for the US government as lower-level bureaucrats no longer could be appointed by their “patrons,” powerful people who already had a government position. Instead, everyone had to apply on equal terms and undergo equal competitive exams to be eligible for government service. The first efforts to avoid nepotism and other forms of favoritism were made in 1871 by President Ulysses Grant when he signed the first Civil Service Act into law. That year, the United States Civil Service Commission was created. Though it only worked through 1874, it is the organizational predecessor of today’s OPM. President Theodore Roosevelt finally picked up the cause of “an impartial, professional civil service based on the merit principle” ( His name adorns the building, which houses the OPM today. To understand the size and complexity of the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM), one needs to know that this government organization is responsible for regulations, written guidance and the creation of policies that relate to human resource matters of past, present and future employees in the federal government across the United States. Based on these regulations, guidance and policies, agency HR offices perform the hiring and service functions that directly deal with federal employees. This means that the federal HR system is based on “delegated authority.” The OPM is not


Information on the history of the OPM can be found online at http:// www.princeton. edu/~achaney/ tmve/wiki100k/ docs/Pendleton_Civil_Service_ Reform_Act.html and at http:// en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Pendleton_Civil_Service_ Reform_Act#. The OPM also has a history section on its own website at http://www. 4


responsible for people who work for state or local governments. Caring for federal employees across the country requires the OPM to run one of the world’s largest employer health insurance programs, which includes 206 plans and covers more than eight million federal employees, retirees and family members. It operates the retirement system for more than two million federal employees and millions of federal retirees and survivors (i.e. widows/widowers and dependents of deceased employees) and conducts more than one million background investigations on federal employees and contractors every year. These background checks are necessary to screen contractors and employees for their suitability to work in the federal government. For future government employees, it maintains a website——that lists all job announcements by the US government.5 Also future-oriented is its role in guiding human resources policies for federal agencies government-wide. Here, the OPM is charged with leading efforts to reform the federal hiring process and to promote diversity in the workforce. Even for the everyday American, the OPM operates health insurance programs to help them get access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which President Obama signed into law. This is by far not a complete list of OPM’s tasks and responsibilities, but it serves to remind us that the OPM occupies a central role in the US federal government. OPM’s self-proclaimed mission is to “Recruit, Retain and Honor a WorldClass Workforce to Serve the American People” ( Since November 2013, Katherine Archuleta has been the agency’s Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management. She is the third OPM Director since the Lab was created under former Director John Berry who has since become Ambassador to Australia. Following Berry, former General Counsel Elaine Kaplan developed the Lab further. Kaplan now serves on the Court of Federal Claims. OPM addresses its responsibilities and pursues its mission through many initiatives, programs and materials that the OPM conceives of, develops and delivers to hire “the best talent,” “train and motivate employees,” and promote “an inclusive work force.” At first sight, all these efforts seem to focus on organizational matters and on OPM’s “responsibility for keeping the government running smoothly.” However, as the OPM states, the way government runs has “daily consequences for every citizen” ( While many private businesses have been slow to understand how their internal operations affect the products and services they can offer their customers, the OPM has been explicit about how their internal workings shape the interactions they have with citizens and ultimately the experiences citizens have with the federal government. The objectives on the OPM website state that the organization has a mandate to be user-centered and human-centered: to help people make searches and applications for federal jobs easier and faster (which involves user-centered design); by providing federal employee benefits that are relevant, flexible, fair and rewarding (which involves human-centered design); by making federal employment accessible (user-centered) and possible for every American who seeks to work for the government (human-centered), and by retaining a diverse and versatile federal workforce that reflects the diversity of the agency and the people it serves (human-centered).6 Lending new emphasis to the mandate to be humancentered, the Public Innovation Lab at the OPM is explicit about its effort to employ human-centered design principles and methods.



USAjobs. gov is just one of many websites maintained by the agency. Others include;; and


I intentionally distinguish between usercentered and human-centered design efforts because many people confuse these or even use them synonymously. Broadly stated, user-centered design concerns matters of accessibility, whereas human-centered design concerns matters of justice and fairness (cf. Buchanan, R. 2001, “Principles of Human-Centered Design,” Design Issues).

Public innovation labs



About the US OPM Innovation Lab The US OPM Innovation Lab in the sub-basement of the Theodore Roosevelt Building in Washington, D.C. spans over 3,000 square feet. It is described as “a flexible, ‘multi-use’ ideation environment” with the aim to “foster innovation and collaboration.”7 The workspace holds 60 seats and can be completely reconfigured within maximum 60 minutes.8 When the OPM Innovation Lab was established in March 2012, it was modeled on the work environments of successful creative and innovative business organizations. Members of the US OPM have visited and studied design consultancies, design schools and other innovation-centered businesses to identify common factors that foster creativity, new thinking and the development of new practices.9 They identified three key factors across the organizations they studied that promote creativity: These are 1) a workspace designed to foster collaboration, creativity and action; 2) research methods that immerse designers in the world of the end user, and 3) empathy as the centerpiece of product/process development.10 Accordingly, the Innovation Lab within the OPM was carefully set up to satisfy these three requirements. Budget limitations, operational and organizational concerns led the original director of the Lab to establish the Lab phase by phase. As a consequence, the initial Phase (1) focused on creating a working environment suitable to innovative and collaborative work; the subsequent Phase (2) centered on the development of human-centered design methods, while the third Phase (3) seeks to identify and instill necessary organizational changes. The two concrete objectives in Phase 1 were to a) create a new office culture around open collaboration, doing (“walk the talk”), and envisioning (“think of the big picture”) and b) for staff and employees to shape their own territories by “moderating” their voice, “manipulating” their space, and by “going” to the best location for their task. In Phase 2 methods of human-centered design were grouped into methods of looking, understanding, and making to clarify their role and meaning to US OPM staff:11 “Looking centers on research methods for observing human-centered experience: ethnographic research methods, participatory research methods and evaluative research methods.” “Understanding captures methods for analyzing challenges and opportunities: understanding people and systems, patterns and priorities, and problem-framing.” “Making concerns methods for envisioning future possibilities: concept ideation, modeling and prototyping, and design rationale.”12 Currently, the OPM Innovation Lab describes itself as being in its third phase where it employs user-centered and human-centered design methods consistently to initiate shifts in organizational thinking and organizational doing. One of the key challenges in this phase is to work with staff and personnel on new approaches to understanding and addressing problems. To achieve this, the Lab has identified dominant organizational concepts and language and proposed shifts for future interpretations. For example, the Lab suggests that the OPM should move away from “facilitation” and towards design; depart from a focus on “means” and instead work towards “ends”; instead of holding or enduring “sessions,” the Lab


Source The Innovation Practice at OPM, internal paper 2013, unpublished. 8

Source Symposium on Human-centered Design in Government & Social Innovation, Hertie School of Governance, April 25, 2013, Berlin, Germany. 9

Organizations studied by the OPM staff include: Facebook, IDEO, the LUMA Institute, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Zappos, and the d-school at Stanford University. 10

Source The Innovation Practice at OPM, internal paper 2013 unpublished. 11

These methods have been borrowed from some of the design studios they studied, including IDEO and the LUMA Institute in Pittsburgh. Some of these methods are more fully explained in Bill Moggridge’s book Designing Interactions. 12

The method descriptions have been borrowed from the LUMA Institute on which the LAB at OPM based its curriculum for teaching and applying design methods for emerging practitioners at the agency.

proposes to seek engagements; rather than concentrating on “problem-solving,” the Lab proposes to look for “solutions.” Finally, the Lab seeks to embrace “spirit” over space. All these efforts in Phase 3 target the development of a new mindset among OPM staff. For the Lab, the core questions in the current phase have been: what are the characteristics of an innovative mindset, and how can we develop such mindsets within organizations, specifically the OPM itself ? REFLECTION: Do public innovation labs present a byway to public-sector innovation? This chapter began with the question whether public innovation labs can introduce the kinds of changes in organizational structures and procedures and in the mindset of public-sector employees that lead to public-sector innovations. I discussed the Lab at the OPM as an example of such a lab and explained how it came into being, how it approached its task, and how this fits within the overall organization of the OPM, its purpose and its objectives. It is now time to reflect on the achievements and the future challenges that public sector innovation labs such as the OPM Lab face. From “the citizen is the problem” to “we are the problem” The Lab at the US OPM explicitly embraces human-centered design concepts and methods. It looks into user pathways, customer journeys and user experiences to inquire into its own organizational design practices and to judge the relevance of its own products and services. For the organization, the focus on human-centered design presents a shift in thinking: The citizen is no longer treated and considered to be “the problem.” The organization itself has come under scrutiny. For an organization like the OPM, the problem of social innovation is not limited to identifying and targeting the right “end-user,” “customer” or citizen. Rather than nudging everyday citizens to do the right thing (Rainford & Tinkler 2011), public innovation labs like the OPM Innovation Lab have begun to search internally for how public organizations must change and improve to make social innovations possible. This might be considered as a byway to innovation, a departure from structuring organizational processes around legal, bureaucratic and technical constraints to which citizens have to adapt to and a conscious effort to become human-centered. Public-sector innovation does not equal technology but a new mindset It is striking that the OPM Innovation Lab does not focus on technologies but on organizational Facilitation behavior. The leaders of the US OPM Innovation Lab are first and foremost interested not Means in the implementation of new technological devises and systems but in developing an innovative mindset among federal employees. None Sessions of the phases have emphasized technology. Instead, each phase has sought to continuously Problem solving make changes to the work environment, to work practices. The ultimate goal was to help people inside the organization think differently about Space their own work and to reflect on the overall


Figure 5.1 This slide by the OPM Innovation Lab explains what kinds of shifts the work by the Innovation Lab seeks to achieve Source OPM Innovation Lab

Design Ends Engagements Solutions Spirit

Public innovation labs



purpose of the organization. These kinds of changes we see at the OPM and at other public innovation labs contradict a still common notion that civil servants are risk averse.13 Rather than accept that federal employees work in the absence of competitive forces, lack incentives to engage in change, and are deterred by a proliferation of red tape that stifles innovation, the OPM Innovation Lab demonstrates that within large and complex government organizations, innovation can take place and does take place under much more demanding circumstances than in the private sector. In this context, one cannot help but notice a certain level of inconsistency in the arguments put forth by some innovation theorists. On the one hand, they seek to explain the cause for the lack of innovation in the public sector with situational attributes: This is the case when they suggest that it is not the individual public employee’s fault that s/he is surrounded by an absence of competitive forces, lacks incentives for change and is caught in a maze of red tape. In this view, innovation theorists portray public employees sometimes as victims of the public system, the organizational environment, the institutional framework, the rules and regulations that debilitate their ability to innovate. Of course, actually risk-averse civil servants may also point to situational attributes when they are not interested in engaging in changes. The role of situational attributes is to explain a situation without the person involved having a fair chance to do something about it. We find many athletes using situational attributes to explain their losses. However, when they win, they tend to emphasize their own personal qualities and characteristics, which are not situational or circumstantial but dispositional attributes. Curiously, the very same innovation theorists who explain the inertia in the public sector with situational attributes are the ones who compare public employees with visionary leaders and innovators like the founder of Apple (Steve Jobs) or the founder of Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg). In their description of these successful inventors and innovators, the same theorists celebrate these company founders’ dispositional attributes: They describe these (mostly) men as “visionaries,” “makers,” “enablers,” “strategists,” as people who just go and “do it.” In doing so, they are comparing apples and oranges (dispositional attributes with situational attributes). But aside from pointing out this discrepancy in innovation arguments, one has to ask if such visionaries really make for a good role model for the public sector. Are they even fair comparisons? Would Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg really have been willing to serve the public in the way civil servants navigate a highly complex political landscape and make long-term commitments (and forego big paychecks)? I suggest that we need to have a different view of innovation in the public sector than in the free-enterprise world. “Breakthrough innovations” in the public sector are rare and difficult to achieve. They are even more difficult in light of the constraints and the mandates of government organizations. More so than private enterprises, public organizations have to justify every move they make and every action they take with taxpayers’ money. From this point of view, public innovation labs, too, present a byway to innovation, one that does not simply copy and paste the private-sector approaches and ideals of innovation into a landscape that is ill prepared to adopt them. Challenges to future sucess The above descriptions of the work and approaches by the US OPM Innovation Lab indicates how public innovation labs may provide civil servants and public managers opportunities to explore new design concepts and to experiment with


This is a bias that Sahni et al. (2013) also cater to in a rather populist manner.


Humble & Empathetic Pattern Finder & Problem Framer

Curious Explorer Driven, Persistent & Purposeful Playful & Imaginative

Collaborative Networker Risk Enthusiast & Experimental

Figure 5.2 Illustrates how public innovation labs seek to change mindsets and develop new innovative skills by applying behavioral insights and design methods others have successfully employed. The colors in this mindset diagram correspond to the color in the skills diagram. The two figures shown here refer to a diagram the US OPM uses to develop and foster these skills among federal employees. This work originated in The LUMA Institute Pittsburgh.

THE SKILLSET OF AN INNOVATIVE PERSON The discipline of human-centered design UNDERSTANDING Methods for analyzing challenges and opportunities:

MAKING Methods for envisioning future possibilities:

LOOKING Methods for observing human experience:

PEOPLE & SYSTEMS – Stakeholder Mapping – Persona Profiles – Experience Diagramming – Concept Mapping …

CONCEPT IDEATION – Thumbnail Sketching – Creative Matrix – Round Robin – Alternative Worlds  …

ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH – Interviewing – Contextual Inquiry – Walk-a-Mile Immersion – Fly-on-the-Wall Observation  …

PATTERNS & PRIORITIES – Affinity Clustering – Ball’s-eye Diagramming – Importance/ Difficulty Matrix – Visualize-the-Vote …

MODELING & PROTOTYPING – Storyboarding – Schematic Diagramming – Rough & Ready Prototyping – Appearance Modeling  …

PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH – What’s-on-your-Radar? – Build-your-own – Buy-a-Feature – Journaling  …

PROBLEM FRAMING – Problem Tree Analysis – Statement Starters – Abstraction Laddering – Rose, Bud, Thorn …

DESIGN RATIONALE – Concept Posters – Video Scenarios – Cover Story Mock-ups – Quick Reference Guides  …

EVALUATIVE RESEARCH – Think Aloud Test – Heuristic Review – Critique – System Usability Scale  …

new design practices they can then apply to the design of more human-centered policies and public services. We have seen, too, how this particular public innovation lab has the potential to influence the hiring environment, the assessment and the rewarding system for federal employees across the United States. Despite the potential of public-sector innovation labs, the OPM Innovation Lab and many other labs currently being set up also face several challenges that I will discuss now. To broaden our understanding and scope, I will refer to insights gained from the Danish Mindlab, the French La27region, the UK Policy Connect as well as two


In the original diagram, the circles of the mindset are connected through lines with the skills table Source Courtesy of the US OPM; The LUMA Institute, Pittsburgh

Public innovation labs



public-sector innovation labs that have already been defunded: the Helsinki Design Lab and the Australian DesignGov. Rather than discussing each in detail, I will present the challenges as cumulative experiences by these labs and their directors. I draw on the insights of personal conversations and discussions that took place in 2013 and 2014 and also during a symposium at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin in spring 2013 on the topic of human-centered design in government and social innovation: “Lessons from Europe and the US and for Policy-Makers and Public Managers.” From these conversations and discussion, three challenges emerge that are significant for the future ability of these innovation labs to contribute to public-sector innovation.14 These challenges include a recruitment challenge, an evidence challenge and a relevance challenge. The recruitment challenge Where do public innovation labs find the people necessary to run and operate the labs, to conduct workshops, to develop and deliver outcomes and to make a continuous case within their organizations and to their political supporters? Who has the interest and courage to go down to the basement and clean out some wasted storage space? Speaking to several directors of public innovation labs, two problems transpire in the context of recruitment: There are still not enough designers who are prepared to work in organizational contexts on organizational matters, specifically in unsexy places like taxation offices or offices of personnel management. And there are few graduates from policy and governance schools who are prepared to move beyond decision-making and statistics to actually doing hands-on work. The recruitment problem can be resolved with educational approaches and there are several initiatives underway to train civil servants on the job. In the Netherlands, the Academy of the Ministry of Social Affairs & Employment offers such training. In the US, the consulting firm Accenture has begun to offer workshops to public employees.15 To adress the recruitment problem more fully, courses on organizational design practices and on organizational design concepts coupled with human-centered design approaches would provide much needed theoretical grounding and contribute to the development of actual methods and practices. The evidence challenge Where is the evidence that the design approach works? Where are the case studies? This is a common call by social scientists who are intrigued by the new approaches to policy-making and policy-implementation and who wish for it to work. Yet, they remain skeptical in the absence of data and other traditional forms of evidence that public innovation labs can actually achieve the objectives they set out for. At the same time, there is just as much evidence that the design approach works or does not work as there is for common and traditional approaches: “We already fail publicly with many of our services and products,” explained one director of an innovation lab at the Berlin symposium.16 “We might as well admit it and embrace the risk new approaches bring with them.” The evidence challenge to the design approach promoted by public-sector innovation labs echoes the problem Sahni et al. (2013) detect in public-sector innovation more broadly. They propose public leaders should think more like venture capitalists:


http://www. mediaandevents/ events/eventspages/25042013human-centreddesign-in-government-and-socialinnovation.


This information is based on an exchange with leaders of these two programs via the EU Public Sector Innovation research group, which is led by Christian Bason, Director of the cross-ministerial research unit Mindlab in Denmark http://eupsi.


See note 14.

“Without data to validate an initiative’s existence, the public sector attacks the experimental efforts. Yet the inherent paradox is that in order to generate data, experiments are required. To overcome this dilemma, public leaders must behave like venture capitalists by placing small bets based on a theory about the future and using those bets to guide subsequent action.”

The approach by the OPM Innovation Lab may just be such a bet. The studio setting, too, is geared to support such small bets in the same way that design more generally invests in small bets and prototypes and reiterates these bets to slowly generate “evidence” of what works for people and of what is possible for organizations. But the evidence question continues to be the easiest line of attack for political reasons. The Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA, which reports to the Finnish parliament, opened the Helsinki Design Lab in 2009 but withdrew its financial support by July 2013. The evidence the Helsinki Design Lab produced was either not relevant or not persuasive enough for SITRA to continue its investment. After the national elections in Australia were won by the opposition party, the new prime minister immediately cut funding to another early public innovation lab, DesignGov. Unlike the OPM Innovation Lab, the leaders of DesignGov were given only 18 months to set up a studio and to produce evidence. The OPM Innovation Lab, as we recall, spent more than a year to conduct research into what it needed to do and has only in Phase 3 begun to turn to focus on the organization itself. The relevance challenge Aside from the challenge to produce evidence, another important aspect for the success of a public innovation lab is its continuous demonstration of relevance to the organization and its overall strategies. It is remarkable to see how the OPM Innovation Lab has been embedded within the organization’s overall structure, its leadership and its overall organizational strategies. The OPM has committed itself to foster creativity and innovation among its personnel with the MOSAIC Competencies: Government Performance Review Modernization Act of 2010 as one of the performance criteria for federal employees. This act assesses if he or she

“[d]evelops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.”17

For the OPM Innovation Lab, the MOSAIC Competencies Act presents an organizational mandate and justifaction to develop and support the design capabilities of federal employees. The explicit demand that government employee performance is to be assessed on how they contribute “new insights into situations” makes the user-centered and human-centered design methods developed in the Lab relevant to the overall organization. Moreover, the MOSAIC act specifies that federal employees should be rewarded for their ability to “design and implement cutting-edge programs and processes.” Current work in the Lab therefore fits with the organization’s strategic objectives in implementing the policy goals of the MOSAIC Competencies Act. To understand the links between work in the Innovation Lab and work going on at the policy level within the OPM, it is helpful to look at where the director of the OPM Innovation Lab sits within the overall



https://www. assessmentand-selection/ competencies/.

Public innovation labs



organization: Within the US Office of Personnel Management, the director of the OPM has a dual role. As Chief Learning Officer of the OPM Innovation Lab, the director is a member of OPM’s top management. She is responsible to the Principal Deputy Associate Director of the OPM, who has a direct line to the Associate Director & Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO). This organizational structure ensures accessibility, visibility and authority for her secondary role as Deputy Associate Director of Strategic Workforce Planning. In this role, she leads and oversees the OPM Innovation Lab activities and its staff. We may once again contrast this with the Helsinki Design Lab. In the four years of its existence, the Helsinki Design Lab completed an enormous amount of work. By 2013, the team around its director was internationally recognized as a force, a cutting-edge group who explored and employed design successfully for public-sector innovation. Yet, locally and nationally, i.e. within Finland, the team did not receive nearly the same kind of recognition and regard. One challenge then for public innovation labs is to become and to remain relevant to their immediate environment. The OPM Innovation Lab, which is solidly embedded within the OPM organization and its strategic objectives, appears to have a better chance to achieve this relevance. The fact that the Lab supports the organization in implementing the MOSAIC Act is a further indication that the OPM Innovation Lab may present a byway to public-sector innovation in this case. However, the OPM Innovation Lab’s location remains both a reason to marvel and to be concerned. The very fact that it was possible to set up a creative work environment that fosters collaboration and co-designing in a stoic federal building marked by grey isolating cubicle offices is a reason to marvel. The fact that the space is two floors below all the other offices, in the basement beneath the basement, raises concern about its continuous legitimacy, authority and ultimately ability to effect change in the larger organization. Summary and conclusion Today, there is growing agreement that the purpose, function, theories and practices of design apply to many different areas of human making and are not limited to material product development. But while design has long been considered to have a key role in innovations relating to the private sector, its role in public-sector innovation remains blurry. We know little about what constitutes a design problem in the public interest, how design may inform public management, change public organizations or contribute to novel approaches to policy planning and policy implementation. That design can help improve people’s lives is widely acknowledged. Most of us marvel at usable, useful and desirable products and services. Yet, in the public sector, where usable, useful and desirable products and services are of utmost significance, design remains poorly understood. Organizational design practices are seldom acknowledged and even more rarely reflected upon. We are just beginning to consider design concepts, methods and practices in policy-making and in policy-implementation. The OPM Innovation Lab shares with other public innovation labs a desire to change organizational design concepts and organizational design practices to arrive at human-centered innovations in the public sector. It is encouraging that the OPM Lab has already survived two leadership transitions, though under the same administration under the same president. But the examples of other public

innovation labs also show that despite immediate and small successes, the design discourse in the public sector is not solidly established yet. The closure of the SITRA Helsinki Design Lab and DesignGov in Australia are indications of this current state. Were they too radical? Not radical enough? Too independent? Not sufficiently embedded in a specific public organization? What we do know by now is that changing organizational design practices and design concepts around principles and methods of human-centered design do offer a different road to innovation.


Public innovation labs

129 References and sources Barry, D. & Meisiek, S. 2010. Seeing More and Seeing Differently: Sensemaking, Mindfulness and the Workarts. Organization Studies, 31, 11, pp. 1505–1530. Body, J. 2008. Design in the Australian Taxation Office. Design Issues, 24, 1, pp. 55–67. Bason, C. 2014. Design for Policy, Gower, UK. Buchanan, R. 2001. Human Dignity and Human Rights: Thoughts on the Principles of Human-Centered Design. Design Issues, 17. Buchanan, R. 2003. Designing for User Experience: A Report on the Development of Design Capability in the Australian Taxation Office. Burckhardt, L. 1985. Design ist unsichtbar. Burckhardt, L. (Ed.) Die Kinder fressen ihre Revolution. Köln: DuMont, pp. 42–48. Burckhardt, L. and Höger, H. 1995. Design ist Unsichtbar. Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag. Carmody, M. 2002. Listening to the Community: Easier, Cheaper, More personalized, presentation to the American Chamber of Commerce, Sydney. Gorb, P. and Dumas, A. 1987. Silent Design. Design Studies, 8, 3 July, pp. 150–156. Junginger, S. and Sangiorgi, D. 2009. Service Design as a Vehicle for Organizational Change, IASDR Conference, Seoul 2009. Moggridge, B. 2007. Designing Interactions (Foreword by Gillian Crampton Smith) (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA & London, England: The MIT Press. Preston, A. 2004. Designing the Australian Tax System. R. Boland and F. Collopy (eds.) Managing as Designing, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Junginger Rainford, P. and Tinkler, J. 2011. Designing for nudge effects: how behaviour management can ease public sector problems. Innovating through Design in Public Services Seminar Series 2010–2011: Seminar 4: Designing for nudge effects: how behaviour management can ease public sector problems. 23rd February 2011, London School of Economics. Sahni, N. R., Wessel, M. and Christensen, C. M. 2013. Unleashing Breakthrough Innovations in Government. Stanford Social Innovation Blog, Summer 2013. Information on Government Sponsored Public Innovation Labs US OPM Innovation Lab: Cross-Ministerial Research Unit Denmark: The Human Experience Lab (THE LAB), Singapore: heart-designing-policies/. On the history of the OPM wiki100k/docs/Pendleton_Civil_Service_ Reform_Act.html. Service_Reform_Act#See_also. is just one of many websites maintained by the agency. Others include;; and our-mission-role-history/theodore-roosevelt/. On the history of design in government Highlights in the NEA History: Setting the Standard: The NEA Initiates the Federal Design Improvement Program


Co-designing can seed the landscape for radical innovation and sustainable change



Co-designing can seed the landscape for radical innovation and sustainable change Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders, MakeTools, LLC

Overview Designers have unique skills that include visualization, creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. These skills have traditionally been used for the creation and production of designed products, services and spaces. More recently there has been widespread recognition of design’s role in facilitating the interdisciplinary commercialization of innovation. But there is a more radical role for design to play. Design can bring the foundational skills of visualization, problem solving and creativity to a collective level and seed the emergence of transdisciplinary approaches to addressing the complex issues critical to society today. Design can play a seeding role in the co-creation of radical innovation and sustainable change. Designing and co-designing Before getting into a discussion about design, co-creation and co-design, it is best to be clear about how these terms will be used. “Design is an inquiry into the future scenario of use� (Gedenryd, H. 1998). In other words, design is an exploration about people and their future ways of living. Co-creation refers to acts of creativity that are experienced jointly by two or more (and sometimes even crowds of) people. By co-design we refer to collective creativity as it is applied across the whole span of the design development process. In other words, codesign is one type of co-creation.

Where is co-design happening today? Co-design is happening today at all points along the design development process. This process can be represented, as shown in Figure 6.1, as a squiggle that starts out somewhat chaotically but changes in form, becoming more linear over time. Co-designing activities are represented by the red dots which can appear at any or all points along the process. The traditional part of the design development process begins when the idea or the concept of what is to be designed has already been determined. Discovery activities are involved in the early part of the traditional design development process, with the path to the final product and/or service becoming progressively more linear over time. The front end of the process, on the other hand, has emerged only over the last 10 to 15 years. It is often referred to as the “fuzzy front end� because of its messy and chaotic nature. The fuzzy front end is made up of the many activities that take place in order to inform and inspire the exploration of open-ended questions. In the front end, there is no clear path on how to proceed and there may be many divergent paths to explore before any patterns can be discerned and insights occur. In the front end, it is often not known whether the deliverable of the design process will be a product, a service, an interface, or something else such as a building. The goal of the exploration that takes place in the fuzzy front end is to identify the problems that need to be solved and uncover relevant opportunities in order to determine what could be (or should not be) designed. The result of frontend exploration can lead in any number of directions because the path to the future is not known a priori. That is one reason that the gap between the front end and the traditional part of the process is often a difficult one to bridge (Sanders, E. 2010).







Market + Sell

Figure 6.1 Co-design is happening at all points along the design development process as the red dots show

After Sale

TRADITIONAL DESIGN DEVELOPMENT PROCESS Co-designing can seed the landscape ...














Marketplace results





Maximization of shareholder wealth


Business advancement

Positive experiences



Service orientation

Customization Improved quality of life Sustainability

Products that sell End-users Empowered consumers

Products and services that people need and want


Very long-term









Beginning with the goal of “market creation� is a market-led approach to innovation and change. It is the view that you would see when looking at the design development process from a position at the right-hand side of the squiggle, i.e., from the market place. A more radical perspective on change and innovation can be seen by looking from the left-hand side of the squiggle where the focus is on the fuzzy front end. Here the challenge is not about creating new markets but about using design to let people participate in the co-creation of their own futures. The results of this way of working may include new product and/or service systems or it may involve cultural change or both. The point is not to decide for people what they need but to include them in the early part of the design process and use design to deliver scenarios that make sense to them. In summary, with regard to radical innovation and sustainable change, I see the issue not from a consumer perspective with the objective of market creation, and not from the business perspective with the objective of opportunity creation. I will be speaking from the perspective of the future users of products, systems and/or services with the objective of social change and radical, yet relevant, innovation. This perspective requires a co-design-led approach rather than a market-led approach. Levels of value in co-designing What does co-designing look like? The methods, tools and activities used in the practice of co-design change according to where they are used in the design development process. To better understand why co-designing looks different as it is

From life stage to lifetime

Over many generations

Figure 6.2 A comparison of the three levels of value in co-creation

played out across the design development process, it is useful to first consider the levels of value relevant to various co-designing processes and practices. There are at least three types of value in co-creative activities and relationships: monetary, use or experience and societal (Sanders, E. & Simons, G. 2009). They are described comparatively in Figure 6.2 in terms of the objectives, mindsets, roles of the people, deliverables and timeframe. The column labeled “people” is the most telling with regard to the changing mindsets that characterize each level of value in co-creation. The monetary value of co-creation is the one that usually receives the most attention in business circles. Co-creation that results in monetary value is fueled by the desire to make money in new ways, more efficient ways, or in ways that provide revenues over longer periods of time. With this mindset, people are thought of and referred to as customers or consumers of goods and/or services. Co-creation associated with monetary value does not necessarily require direct contact between the company and its customers because the conversation can be mediated by communication technologies. This can be seen in web-based surveys that ask consumers to select features of choice or the crowd-sourcing of large numbers of respondents to obtain feedback about products, services and brands (e.g., Surowiecki, J. 2005). The use/experience value of co-creation is fueled by companies’ desires to transform consumers into users so that the products and services they design, produce and sell will better meet people’s wants and needs. One could argue that this is directly related to monetary value, but this value extends beyond monetary gain. With the use/experience mindset, people are thought of and are referred to as endusers and sometimes as empowered consumers who are able to make choices in the goods and services they buy and use. The experience value of co-creation applies not only to products and services, but also to brands and branded environments. The societal value of co-creation is fueled by aspirations for longer-term and more sustainable ways of living. It supports the exploration of open-ended questions such as “how can we improve the quality of life for people living with a chronic illness?” When working within this context one does not generally have preconceived notions of the outcome, since determination of the form of the outcome is part of the challenge. Co-creation at the societal level involves the integration of experts and everyday people working closely together. Direct personal involvement between people is needed for this type of co-creation. Figure 6.2 compares the three types of value co-creation by emphasizing their differences. In practice there is overlap between the levels. All three types of value in co-creation are important to understand and develop, and are at times inextricably linked. For example, societal value can provide use/experience value as well as financial reward as it plays out over time. Levels of value in co-designing across the design development process An interesting pattern emerges when the types of value intersect the different stages of the design process at which co-creation occurs. Figure 6.3 has been created by intersecting the stages of the design development process (from Figure 6.1) with the three levels of value in co-creation (from Figure 6.2). Placed on the figure are examples of some organizations that are using co-creation at different stages of their design development process. Each


Co-designing can seed the landscape ...

137 Discover



After sale






organization is placed according to the messages they convey with regard to their position on co-creation. The choice of organizations is not based on an exhaustive search and analysis of all companies. But it does represent a wide cross-section of what is being communicated today on the internet and in the press. The pattern that is shown in Figure 6.3 reveals that value co-creation with a focus on monetary objectives is more likely to take place later in the design development process, in the design adoption stages such as marketing, sales and distribution. Value co-creation of the use/experience variety tends to take place during the design process, including in the discovery stage. And societal value cocreation is most likely to occur in the very early front end of the design process. So the earlier in the design development process that co-designing or co-creation occurs, the greater and broader will be the likely impact. Societal value co-creation tends to start at the very early front end, well before any specific concept definition has been formulated. There are a number of prerequisites that are needed to support the practice of co-creation in the fuzzy front end of the design development process. First is the belief that all people are creative and can participate in a creative process if they are motivated and if they are provided with the tools to do so. Second is the belief that collective creativity is more than the sum of the creativity of the individuals involved (Bissola, R. & Imperatori, B. 2011). Diversity is also a key driver: if all participants are of the same background, perspective, and opinion, the outcome may be limited and even predictable. The exploration and use of design tools, materials and methods that provide a common language for generating and communicating insights and ideas is also critical in the practice of co-creation at the front end of innovation. The

Figure 6.3 The three levels of value in co-creation in relationship to the design development process

shift for companies in seeing their objectives change from designing for people to designing with people is profound. It can take many years for the mindset and practices of co-creation between companies and future users to permeate and change an organization. Organizational barriers often stand in the way, and without support at the highest of levels within the organization the shift is not likely to occur. Creativity, collective creativity and transdisciplinarity If we provide a diverse group of people with the places, spaces, conditions and materials for collective creativity, we can facilitate radical innovation and change. Collective creativity is essential for addressing the wicked problems we face and uncovering latent opportunities in the front end. Design-led innovation does not necessarily address these challenges. Co-design-led innovation is needed. Co-designing in the fuzzy front end relies on the interplay of both individual and collective creativity. We know a lot about the creativity that happens in the head of the individual. But the problem is that creativity is not only in the head (e.g., Sawyer, K. 2006, 2007). Creativity is also in the heart as it is profoundly affected by emotion, i.e., positive emotion is related to increased creativity (Baas, M. et al. 2008; Isen, A. 1999). So it is important that the contexts of creativity promote fun and enjoyable experiences. And creativity is in the body as it moves and performs in space over time. More recent research and applications of it in the front end of innovation are showing that the use of the body can be a medium for creative ideation and expression (Jungmann, M. 2011). And we are just now beginning to realize how important spaces, places, tools and materials can be for sparking the imagination and for externalizing and giving form to ideas (Dul, J. et al. 2011). Beyond individual creativity there is a whole new domain of collective creativity. Far less research has taken place here, although the interest in this domain is quickly gathering speed because the new communication technologies such as social networks are being used to scaffold collective creativity. Spaces, places, tools and materials become particularly important when we are looking at collective creativity (Fisher, G. 2011). The most radical form of


Figure 6.4 (left) Brainstorming as a form of collective creativity: The red sparks represent ideas Figure 6.5 (right) Transdiciplinarity as a form of collective creativity: The big red spark represents a big idea that is collectively generated

Co-designing can seed the landscape ...



collective creativity is transdisciplinarity (Volckmann, R. 2009). Transdisciplinarity can be seen as collective creativity that takes place between people who differ greatly in what they bring to the situation, such as experience or education. The value in transdisciplinary teamwork is the potential for approaching really big challenges in new ways. Transdisciplinarity as seen from the perspective of collective creativity offers the opportunity to move beyond the solving of wicked problems to the exploration of really wild opportunities. There are at least two ways in which collective creativity is expressed: brainstorming and transdisciplinarity. Brainstorming usually looks like the diagram in Figure 6.4 that shows a group of people, each one relying on their individual creativity to come up with thoughts or ideas (i.e., the red sparks) that get scribbled on a post-it note or written on the white board. When brainstorming is going well, thoughts from one person can trigger additional thoughts in another person as shown at the top. So with brainstorming, you end up with a lot of thoughts and ideas. But there is usually no big picture that connects the ideas. And there may not be a shared mental model of what was just created. Collective creativity in the form of transdisciplinarity looks like the diagram in Figure 6.5 that shows a group of very diverse people connected in thought and action and working together as one on a very big idea or set of connected ideas (i.e., the big red spark). Collective creativity uses all of the contexts of creativity (heart, body, space, tools and materials) to support and scaffold the shared space of thoughts and ideas. When collective creativity is working well, all the people in the group contribute simultaneously to a big picture or mental model that emerges from the shared mind and body space. This form of collective creativity has the potential to produce very powerful results when the conditions are right. The co-construction of a visualization of the big picture or shared mental model is essential for collective creativity, and this is where the importance of the methods, tools and materials comes into play. Co-designing in the front end of innovation and social change The interest and activities in support of co-designing in the front end have been growing rapidly over the last ten years. The interest in various forms of collective creativity has resulted in a very large set of tools, techniques and methods. To help organize the rapidly growing, global collection of tools and techniques for co-designing, Sanders, Brandt and Binder (2010) have proposed a framework into which all currently TELLING documented tools and techniques of co-designing can be placed. The primary dimension of the framework is described by differences in the ‘form’ of the tools and techniques for either making, telling or enacting. Making refers to methods, tools and techniques for making MAKING tangible things. Making tools and techniques used in co-designing include collages, maps, models and mock-ups that are made by the

Figure 6.6 A participatory framework to organize the methods, tools and techniques for co-designing


non-designer participants. Telling refers to methods, tools and techniques that support verbally oriented activities such as talking and explaining. Telling tools and techniques used in co-designing include diaries, logs and the use of cards for organizing ideas, for example. Enacting refers to methods, tools and techniques to support and facilitate acting and playing. Enacting activities used in co-designing include role playing and improvisation, and the tools and techniques of enacting might include props or puppets. Participatory practices of making, telling and enacting, when used iteratively over time, can promote co-creation and spark radical change. The participatory prototyping cycle shown in Figure 6.6 describes the activities of making, telling and enacting in an iterative and never-ending loop. One activity leads to and enriches the next activity. For example, people can begin by making things and then enacting with these things to express their ideas and dreams about future scenarios of use. Or they can start with telling a story about the future and then make props to tell a better story. The participatory framework can be used to spark and support collaborative problem-solving and collective creativity by people coming together from any background. It is a collaborative model of co-creation that invites all the relevant stakeholders into the conceptualization process, whether they are designers or not. For example, the stakeholders might include representatives from marketing, engineering and manufacturing playing together with designers. The stakeholders might also include future users. The three charts described below position some of the tools, techniques and methods into the three modes of participation in design. The classification is deceptively simple and it looks like each activity fits neatly into one category. In reality, the situation is messier than this because some activities fall on the borders between the categories. But the framework is still useful in organizing all the methods, tools and techniques for co-designing as it points out the need for the use of and iteration between the three modes of participation. Making In making, we use our hands to embody ideas in the form of physical artifacts. There are many ways to do making. In fact, the nature of the artifact changes from early to later stages in the design process. Artifacts made early in the process are likely to describe experiences while artifacts made later in the process are more likely to resemble the objects and/or spaces. The chart below summarizes only the recent applications of making that have been published. It is likely that many other applications of making will be published soon as this is an area of interest and growth. × × × × × ×

Making tangible things 2-D collages using visual and verbal triggers on backgrounds with timelines, circles, etc. 2-D mappings using visual and verbal components on patterned backgrounds 3-D mock-ups using foam, clay, Legos or Velcro-modeling Low-tech prototypes Provotypes and design artifacts from the future 3-D space models (small scale) such as the doll house toolkit


Co-designing can seed the landscape ...



Enacting Enacting refers to the use of the body in the environment to express ideas about future experience. We also call this pretending or play-acting. Acting, improvising and performing are forms of enactment that are useful in the design process. There has been some interest lately in various forms of enactment as a design tool (e.g., Burns, C. et al. 1995 and Diaz, L. et al. 2009) and some of this work has been done collaboratively with future users and other stakeholders. The chart below summarizes only the recent applications of enacting that have been published. × × × × × × × × ×

Acting, enacting and playing Game boards and game pieces and rules for playing Props and black boxes 3-D space models (full scale) Scenario-making in the space models or through sandplay Participatory envisioning and enactment by setting users in future situations Improvisation Acting out, skits and play acting Role playing with actors, pretenders, puppets, dolls, etc. Bodystorming and informative performance

Telling Telling is a verbal description about future scenarios of use. We might tell a story about the future or describe a future artifact. But telling can be difficult for people who don’t have verbal access to their own tacit knowledge. It is generally easier to tell a story about a specific instantiation of something than to formulate an abstract or general assertion. There are many ways to do telling. The chart below summarizes only the recent applications of telling that have been published. × × × × × × × ×

Talking, telling and explaining Stories and storyboarding through writing, drawing, blogs, wikis, photos, video, etc. Diaries and daily logs through writing, drawing, blogs, photos, video, etc. Self-observation through photos, video, blogs, writing, drawing, etc. Documentaries and movie-making Experience timelines or maps Paper spaces to collect, organize, categorize, reframe, chart and/or make decisions about ideas or concepts through group brainstorming and collective mindmapping. Cards to organize, categorize and prioritize ideas. The cards may contain video snippets, incidents, signs, traces, moments, photos, domains, technologies, templates and what if provocations. Voting dots to prioritize ideas.

Is co-design a collection of tools and techniques, a set of methods or a mindset? The term co-design is being used today to describe an incredibly wide range of activities with many different goals. So is co-design a new way to differentiate your








After sale

Co-design as a collection of tools and techniques

Co-design as a set of methods or an approach

Co-design as a mindset

company in the marketplace? Is it yet another method with an interesting collection of tools that can be called upon in the design process? Or is co-design much larger than that? Is it a mindset (established set of attitudes held by someone), or a worldview (a philosophy of life or conception of the world) that changes how the entire design development process is seen and takes place? The answer to all these questions is yes. Co-designing can be any one or all three of these perspectives, depending on how you view it and use it.

Figure 6.7 Three perspectives on co-designing across the design development process

Co-designing as a mindset This is the broadest and most long-range of the three perspectives and the one that has the most potential to have a positive impact on the lives of people. Co-design practiced from a mindset perspective is best executed by either very experienced co-design practitioners or by young, intuitive practitioners. It is most useful and effective in the front end of the design development process. Co-designing as a set of methods Here we see co-design as a collection of methods that are often compared to other collections of methods (e.g., contextual inquiry or ethnographic fieldwork). The choice of methods may depend upon who is leading the project, what the budget and timing are, as well as other constraints. We see co-design as a method being used primarily during the design exploration and design phases. Co-designing as a collection of tools or techniques This perspective describes the use of co-designing as just another option in the


Co-designing can seed the landscape ...



toolbox of all tools and techniques that can be used in the processes of design, development, marketing and/or distribution. Co-designing as a tool or technique is the perspective that has received the most attention in the popular press as it is being used as a fast and low-cost way to drive interest in and attention to brands and/or new products and services in the marketplace. Figure 6.7 shows the relationship between the three perspectives on co-designing and the place in the design development process at which the perspective is most often used today. Co-designing as a mindset is most useful in the front end. Co-designing as a set of methods or an approach is used in the designfocused phases of the process. Co-designing as a collection of tools or techniques is most often used at the market-facing end of the process. It can be very helpful to clarify which perspective you are talking about when having conversations with others about co-designing, since all three perspectives are relevant and useful today. It is likely that these perspectives will shift and grow as the applications of and attitude toward co-creation and co-design change in the future. What is necessary to promote radical change/innovation through co-designing? Whereas the choice and application of methods and tools is important in promoting radical change and innovation, the mindsets of the people who are involved are even more important. The “best” methods and tools will not work if the mindsets of those involved and the culture in which they operate do not promote a collective spirit. Figure 6.8 shows the relationships of the tools and methods for co-designing to the larger surrounding contexts. ‘Tools’ is only the first step in the transformation toward a co-creative culture. Tools need to be applied via relevant methods that are put together in plans. The mindset with which the plans are applied is also crucial. In co-creation, you need to be working with the mindset that all people are creative and that they are able to produce creative things when given the tools and the stage on which to participate. For example, we have seen good tools/methods fail in the hands of a person who did not actually believe that the people he gave the tools to would be creative with them. In order for a co-creative culture to work, the tools need to be applied via methods that are organized into plans and are practiced with a co-creative mindset by the people within a supportive culture. The mindset of the people and the culture of the company are the biggest challenges to practicing co-designing at the front end. Tools To embrace co-creativity requires that one believes that all people are creative. If those Methods in the company do not believe this, then coPlans creation will not happen. The existing power structures in comMindset panies today are built on hierarchy and control. Co-creative thinking threatens the existing Culture power structures. It is very difficult for those

Figure 6.8 The tools and methods for co-designing need larger contexts in which to survive

who have been successful while being in control to give it up now. The new generation of designers and co-designers will have an easier time since they have grown up in more collaborative learning environments. Case study: “Living with Type 2 Diabetes” This short case study will help to illustrate how co-designing takes place in the fuzzy front end of the design development process on a project that explored the open-ended question “how can we improve the quality of life for people living with a chronic illness?” The case is a real one but the names of the individuals and organizations that were involved in it cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality. Background As both a diagnostics and a pharmaceuticals organization, a leading healthcare company wanted to enable healthcare to be tailored more closely to patients’ individual needs. In 2007, the company established a new group, referred to as New Concept Incubator (NCI), to explore future opportunities for product and service development from a human-centered perspective. The New Concept Incubator group partnered with a Design Research (DR) firm on a project to identify new opportunities that could positively impact the lives of people living with type 2 diabetes and/or their close family members. The “Living with Type 2 Diabetes” project was structured to provide a learning experience for the NCI team members in the mindset of a co-design approach for the purpose of improving the lives of people. From the perspective of product and/or service deliverables, the “Living with Type 2 Diabetes” project was left open-ended, with the intent to explore the unmet needs and dreams of people living with type 2 diabetes. This project objective was a radical change for NCI, an organization with a long history of manufacturing devices. Objective The primary objective of “Living with Type 2 Diabetes” was to develop a deep understanding of the daily experiences of people who are living with type 2 diabetes. This understanding would be used to seed the generation of ideas for improving their lives. The research aimed to discover and understand: × × × ×

their lifestyle patterns, their family relationships, the aspects of their daily routines that were working well for them currently, where they struggled and why, i.e., the constraints and pain points that they faced, and their dreams as well as fears for the future.

Research process The project took five months from kick-off to the final workshop. The short case study described below explains how the principles, tools and methods for codesigning were applied to the researcher/future user relationship. It also shows how the principles, tools and methods of co-designing were used to integrate the efforts of the collaborating firms. Three firms took part: NCI was the sponsoring organization, DR led the co-designing efforts and D was a Design firm whose role it would be to embody future products, systems or services.


Co-designing can seed the landscape ...



Preliminary investigation The project started with a one-day kick-off taking the form of a hands-on workshop about the co-designing process led by DR. People from the three firms took part in the hands-on activities. They made and presented collages (i.e., making and telling activities) about what it might be like and how it might feel to be living with type 2 diabetes. Team members from NCI and D would be taking part in co-designing sessions with the people living with diabetes, so it was necessary for them to experience the tools and materials for making, telling and enacting before going into the field. A wide range of potential activities and scenarios for the in-home sessions that would take place with the people (living with type 2 diabetes) were introduced and discussed. Together the workshop team members identified the issues that needed to be developed, including: × × × × × × × ×

a guide for the informal ethnographic (i.e., shadowing) sessions, screeners that would be used to recruit a range of people living with type 2 diabetes (e.g., younger & older, male & female, recently diagnosed vs diagnosed years ago, etc.), the workbook that would be sent ahead of the home visits to the recruited participants, a workbook that would be sent to family members of the recruited participants ahead of the home visits, a moderator’s guide for the in-home sessions, tools and materials for the in-home sessions, instructions for how to perform the various jobs in the in-home sessions (e.g., video-taping) and what to bring to the sessions, and a discussion guide for the in-depth interviews with healthcare practitioners.

The DR team members shadowed two people living with type 2 diabetes for one full day each to gain first-hand experiences in living with diabetes. They photographed and audio-recorded the shadowing experiences so that they could be shared with the rest of the team later. The DR team members also read and summarized secondary research relating to type 2 diabetes and “lurked” on discussion forums that are frequented by people who have been diagnosed as diabetic. On the forums they made note of the topics and issues that concerned the discussants and the questions they asked of each other. A meeting to prepare for the field research activities The second meeting was held with the team members from NCI, DR and D in order to finalize all the details of the research plan and materials. DR prepared for this meeting by creating prototypes of all the research materials, and scheduling in-home visits that were planned for the fieldwork phase. This included workbooks to be sent to the participants, the discussion guide and the toolkits needed for the activities planned for the in-home sessions. The plan was to recruit 20 participants to ensure that 15 in-home sessions could be completed. The workbook phase DR prepared the workbooks that were sent to and returned by the participants before the home visits. The workbooks served two primary purposes: to gather

background information about the participants and to immerse the participants in thinking about and reflecting upon living with type 2 diabetes. This immersion step was very important in preparing them for the participatory activities planned for the in-home sessions. Immersion is the first step in the activation of the participatory framework of making, telling and enacting (see Figure 6.6). The in-home research sessions Twenty home visits were conducted. Other family members, such as spouses, were often also available during the session and were very happy to take part. The in-home visits began with “telling� activities. The visits started by having the people show the researchers around the house, taking care to let them decide how much to show. The next step in the visit was to review and discuss the workbook with the participant and ask about any answers that were not clear and probe more deeply into key issues. The next activity was a card sort. We gave the participant a deck of cards that described issues people may have who are living with diabetes. We asked them to sort the cards into categories and then explain their categories to us. After the card sort, a making and telling activity was introduced. We invited the participants to map out their personal diabetes timeline on a large posterboard using pictures and words that were provided to them. They took as long as they needed to make the timeline collage and presented it to us when they were done. In the final exercise, the participant was given a choice of two ways to express his or her ideas about future ways of living with type 2 diabetes. They could either make a future device (from a large collection of Velcro-backed components) to help them live better with diabetes in the future. Or they could choose to use puppets to enact stories about living with diabetes in the future. Each visit took about two hours and was thoroughly documented using audio- and video-recording as well as photography to facilitate sharing of the in-home experiences with other team members. DR also conducted in-depth interviews with healthcare professionals who see many diabetic patients. These interviews were exploratory and followed a discussion guide that was designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the emergence of various types of expertise.

Figure 6.9 (top) Participants sorted cards into categories that made sense to them and then explained their categories Figure 6.10 (bottom) Participants created a timeline of their experience living with type 2 diabetes, from past to present to future

Analysis The preliminary analysis took three weeks. The first step was to transcribe the audio-recorded segments in order to have complete documentation for analysis. A database was used to store and organize the workbook entries, the card sort data, and the image and word selections from the timeline mapping. The database


Co-designing can seed the landscape ...



approach helped the researchers to see the patterns in the data. It was also an effective way to transfer the data to NCI at the end of the project. Surprises and preliminary insights were captured, documented and summarized in preparation for the participatory analysis workshop. Participatory analysis workshop DR invited the NCI and D team members to join the analysis process since seeing the analysis of “messy,� qualitative data happen and participating in it first-hand is the best way to learn. The co-analysis space allowed the perspectives of all the team members to play a role in making sense of the data and highlighting the key insights. This room full of data was the inspiration for the persona posters that became one of the primary deliverables of the project. After the participatory analysis workshop, DR continued the analysis with more in-depth investigation of the issues that emerged in the participatory analysis workshop. The final workshop In the final meeting, the three firms met to review the findings and discuss next steps. DR presented the findings and insights using the persona posters and short video clips from the 20 in-home visits. DR also presented many opportunities that emerged from the more in-depth analysis. DR then led a participatory workshop to prioritize all the opportunities and discuss the next steps in design and research. This workshop also served as an introduction to the ongoing project for several new NCI team members. The persona posters The posters that were made to summarize each of the home visits (see three of them in Figure 6.13) became one of the most useful deliverables to the ongoing project effort. They have been continually displayed as inspirational material for NCI team members and they have been used to bring new team members on board as the project has progressed. Results Because of the proprietary nature of this project, it is not possible to share design opportunities, specific results or consequent business decisions. However, some insights that helped to guide subsequent efforts in the design exploration of how to address the unmet needs and dreams of people living with type 2 diabetes can be revealed:

Figure 6.11 (left) Some of the participants imagined and expressed their ideas about living with type 2 diabetes in the future by making artifacts with the Velcro-modeling toolkit Figure 6.12 (right) Other participants imagined and expressed their ideas about living with type 2 diabetes in the future by enacting future scenarios with puppets

× × × ×

People with type 2 diabetes (T2D) cannot be lumped into categories or markets. Each individual with T2D is unique. “Self-management” did not appear to be working for many of the participants in this T2D research. Self-management, if it does work, takes a long time to take effect and relapses are common. The treatment and management of T2D today focuses on the “body” at the expense of the “mind” and the “spirit.” Psychosocial components of living with T2D are not addressed adequately. Many of the participants referred to the “switch” that needs to be activated/turned on in order for a lifestyle change to take hold. The switch is a transformative experience. Some were still waiting for it to happen. Others brought it up as a defining moment in their experience of living with T2D.

Figure 6.13 Three of the 20 persona posters that were made to summarize each of the home visits with the participants who were living with type 2 diabetes

Final thoughts Everyday people are already taking action in determining their future ways of living. The rise of social media is giving a voice to all people and is helping to bring communities together, which will propel the evolution of co-designing. Generation Y, in particular, are wonderful students and practitioners of co-designing since their worldview places a high value on participation and collaboration. Co-designing will flourish in the future as more young people take on increasingly more influential positions within organizations and communities. As the problems that designers deal with become more complex, it has become apparent that a new design language that everyone can use is needed.


Co-designing can seed the landscape ...



The making/telling/enacting model provides for alternative forms of embodiment for all the stakeholders in the design process. By putting making together with telling and enacting, you can empower people who are not skilled in making to externalize their visualization process in other ways. Some people will respond best to stories, some to the enactments and others to the props and prototypes. By utilizing and iterating all three types of participation, everyone who has a stake can contribute to the conceptualization process and to the co-creation of future scenarios of use. Design-led innovation is not likely to address socially sustainable futures unless we are talking about co-design-led futures. Collective creativity is essential. As our understanding of creativity moves from the individual to the collective, it brings with it the potential to embrace the diversity of people who are needed to tackle the wicked problems that we face in the future. With participation of all those whose lives are at stake, collective action is more likely to bring about sustainable transformations in the ways that we live and work and learn.

References Baas, M., De Dreu, C.K.W., and Nijstad, B.A. 2008. A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood creativity research: Hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus? Psychological Bulletin,134, pp. 779–806. Bissola, R. and Imperatori, B. 2011. Organizing individual and collective creativity: Flying in the face of creativity clichés. Creativity and Innovation Management, 20, 2. Burns, C., Dishman, E., Johnson, B. and Verplank, B. 1995. ‘Informance’: Min(d)ing future contexts for scenario-based interaction design. BayCHI, Palo Alto. Diaz, L., Reunanen, M. and Salmi, A. 2009. Role playing and collaborative scenario design development. International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED ’09, Stanford University. Dul, J., Ceylan, C. and Jaspers, F. 2011. Knowledge worker creativity and the role of the physical work environment. Forthcoming in Human Resource Management. Fischer, G. 2011. Social Creativity: Exploiting the Power of Cultures of Participation. Proceedings of SKG2011: 7th International Conference on Semantics, Knowledge and Grids, Beijing, China, October (in press).

Sanders, L. and Simons, G. 2009. A social vision for value co-creation in design. Open Source Business Resource, December 2009. Sanders, E. B.-N. 2010. Stepping Stones Across the Gap: Explorations in the Generative Design Space. Halse, J., Brandt, E., Clark, B., and Binder, T. (Eds.) Rehearsing the Future, The Danish Design School Press, 2010. Sanders, E. B.-N., Brandt, E. and Binder, T. 2011. A framework for organizing the tools and techniques of PD. Proceedings of PDC’ 2010, pp. 195–198. Sawyer, R.K. 2006. Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation, Oxford University Press, New York. Sawyer, K. 2007. Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, Basic Books, New York. Surowiecki, J. 2005. The Wisdom of Crowds, New York: Anchor Books. Volckmann, R. 2009. Creativity and transdisciplinarity: An interview with Alfonso Montuori. Integral Review, 5, 2.

Gedenryd, H. 1998. How Designers Work: Making Sense of Authentic Cognitive Activity. PhD Thesis, Lund University. Isen, A.M. 1999. On the relationship between affect and creative problem solving. S.W. Russ (Ed.) Affect, Creative Experience and Psychological Adjustment, Philadelphia, PA: Bruner/ Mazel, pp. 3–18. Jungmann, M. 2011. Embodied Creativity: A process continuum from artistic creation to creative participation, PhD thesis. University of Sussex.


Co-designing can seed the landscape ...



The dynamics of resistance — Lessons  from the SCI ARS project



The dynamics of resistance — Lessons from the  SCI ARS project Mikael Scherdin & Ivo Zander, Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University

Introduction When asked, most people would endorse creativity, novelty, and intellectual and economic progress; however, in reality, novel ideas and projects are typically met with resistance. Yet, perhaps because it is much more socially acceptable to acknowledge progress rather than inertia, the concept of resistance and how it plays out has received only marginal scholarly attention. In this chapter, we seek to develop a better understanding of the nature and dynamics of resistance, drawing upon our personal experience from attempting to introduce and implement a novel cultural and art project in the city of Uppsala – the SCI ARS project. Outlining a number of elements in what may be seen as the dynamics of resistance, we place particular emphasis on how novel ideas and projects set in motion processes that would otherwise have remained dormant, and which do not necessarily involve any disagreement with the ideas as such. Nevertheless, these often unanticipated processes may prove fatal obstacles to project implementation and ultimate survival. In the concluding parts of the chapter, we draw some tentative conclusions about the pre-conditions for successful introduction of novel ideas on the cultural and art arena and beyond. We highlight how change agents may pay attention to the framing of novel ideas and projects in ways that do not open up for alternative interpretations; how timing of the launch of a project or control over critical resources may avoid triggering otherwise dormant competition; and how evaluators of novel ideas and projects should seek to balance own opinions and input into any project against project members’ motivation to sustain their implementation efforts.

Resistance Most people who have been involved in the launching of novel ideas would agree that they are often met with resistance. Such resistance may express itself in several contexts, including society, organizations, and the implementation of new business ventures (cf. Berglund and Gaddefors, 2010). It is beyond the scope of the present study to explore the concept throughout all its forms and appearances. Hence we will over-simplify and consider resistance towards a novel idea and its practical implications, acknowledging, but not further exploring, that in most cases it is intertwined with issues that concern power and authority relationships. Within this comparatively narrow context, resistance may be defined both as an impassive stance towards a novel idea, expressed in the withholding of critical resources that could potentially have been allocated to support its implementation, and/or actions explicitly aimed at discrediting the idea and preventing its realization. Its effects are delayed implementation or ultimate failure and termination of further attempts to promote and realize the idea. The degree of resistance is in part determined by subjective expectations about the future, as it relates to baseline assumptions about what would be a “normal” pace of implementation and change among the individuals promoting the novel idea. This complicates the establishment of any objectively “true” level of resistance, especially as individuals who launch and pursue novel ideas are known to be susceptible to cognitive biases such as over-confidence and planning fallacies (Kahneman and Lovallo, 1993; Baron, 1998). While resistance is largely subjectively perceived, to some extent it could be said to represent an objective reality. The more objective element would include more or less overt attempts to prevent the implementation of the novel idea (for example, staging legally sanctioned appeals or raising public opinion against certain actions or developments) or to discredit it among people who could offer potential support. Notably, objectively perceivable resistance may not be known to or experienced by everyone. For example, while individuals involved in or affected by attempts to discredit a novel idea may be aware of this fact, such attempts may remain unknown to the group in charge of and promoting idea implementation. The sources of resistance to novel ideas may be manifold. At a fundamental level, resistance finds its roots in general cautiousness against the unfamiliar and traits that have proven beneficial from an evolutionary and survival point of view, but these are aspects that will not be contemplated further in the present study. Especially in the context of novel ideas that deviate significantly from the existing and accustomed ones, resistance may instead be determined by the extent to which involved individuals agree with or understand the new venture. In many cases, and especially when the main issue is the viability of the novel idea (irrespective of how it is defined), people may simply have different opinions about the ultimate chances of success. These different opinions are in large part based on subjective understandings of the likelihood of future events and the ability of individuals to influence the final outcome (cf. Zander, 2007). This is the classical situation of the funding of new business ventures, as displayed in various forms of the Dragons’ Den, as popularized on television, where potential financiers will either support or (more commonly) reject new business proposals. The misunderstanding of novel ideas is of a different nature, because in this case individuals may actually agree about the ultimate chances of success,


The dynamics of resistance


Scherdin & Zander

but implicitly they have misperceived the best or appropriate ways to proceed. The result may be official support for the novel idea and the associated allocation of critical resources and efforts, but as a result of a mismatch of perceived and required efforts there will nevertheless be significant delays, imperfect execution, or ultimate failure of idea implementation. Put somewhat differently, there may be perfectly good intentions but misdirected efforts to help out in the implementation process. The sources of resistance may also be traced to the consequences of the novel idea. In this case, different individuals may be in perfect agreement as to the viability of a novel idea and undertaking, but for some its implementation may be associated with irreversible loss or unpleasant consequences. Although in most (if not all) cases the evaluation of success rates and development processes of novel ideas are associated with emotions (Churchland, 2002; Dolan, 2002), the consequences of novel ideas, particularly if they imply a break with prior experiences, may elicit strong personal reactions, which in turn can translate into supportive or obstructive action (Huy, 2002). A main point we will elaborate upon in the remainder of this chapter is that such common sources of resistance may be accompanied by partly or largely unrelated dynamics and processes. These dynamics and processes may emerge at any time during the pursuit of a novel idea, and may have significantly negative effects on the initiators’ chances of rounding up sufficient support for sustained and successful implementation. Notably, in many cases they might come as an unpleasant surprise for the unsuspecting and unprepared, and the following sections aspire to detail their nature and finally offer some thoughts on how they can be avoided or nullified. Method of investigation The empirical material in the SCI ARS project was collected through direct observation and participation in the project itself, as the first author was lead coordinator of the project and the second a member of the advisory board. Data collection would thus be seen as participant observation, and the empirical account be characterized as an autoethnography (including the first-person presentation of data, which is commonly found in autoethnographical studies; cf. Scherdin, 2007). At the time when the SCI ARS project unfolded, there were no ambitions to use it for any specific research purposes, and in this respect it is void of any attempts to strategically intervene in ongoing processes or events or to pay particular attention to specific conceptual or theoretical aspects of the unfolding story. That latter aspect has instead become the purpose of the current chapter. The applied method comes with several caveats and weaknesses, including the subjective element in the collection and interpretation of data. As the story is told and analyzed in the following sections it is, if you wish, a one-sided account of processes and events that have many other and unobserved aspects and potential interpretations. It has not (yet) been possible to triangulate and verify the observations, although in light of the contents of the account and ultimate results it is doubtful whether a set of interviews with other central actors involved in the process would be free from biases. While the subjective element of the present study may be perceived as troublesome by some, it could be emphasized that such subjective elements would also be part of any traditional, case-based study.

This leads to one of the strengths of the applied methodology, which is that from the authors’ perspective it can be ascertained that the account of processes and events that were part of the SCI ARS project is rendered as honestly and correctly as possible. There has been nothing to gain from telling a story that would only be partially true, or, put somewhat differently, from presenting a biased story in order to be able to make any particular or selling points in the conclusions. The main ambition has indeed been to tell the “true” story, albeit from a subjective viewpoint and still affected by the general problems of accurate recollection and selection of memories and data to go into the final account (Golden, 1992). There is also a second and from our perspective important advantage associated with the applied method – the fact that all the emotions that were involved in the process can be retold. Again, a number of issues such as selective and incorrect recollection come into the picture also with respect to emotions, but arguably those emotions that were strongly perceived and hence remembered are also those that have warranted particular and closer scrutiny. In the account that follows, it has not been possible to include full details about the processes and events that were part of the SCI ARS project. Instead, we have attempted to provide a general understanding of the unfolding of the process, and zeroed in on a small number of events that we believe were of significant consequence and conceptual interest. These events became immediately obvious when trying to recollect what happened during project launch and development, and reflecting upon what they meant ultimately proved highly enlightening in terms of understanding the resistance to the project. In other words, as the project like many others of a similar kind involved arduous efforts to initiate change, that part of the story will be taken for granted and not commented upon further. Our main interest will be one or two conceptual points that gave us a deeper understanding of what happened, and hopefully the same applies to the reader as well. The SCI ARS project As it was ultimately described, about one year after the idea was originally conceived, SCI ARS was to become a center for contemporary art, with specific focus on cross-disciplinary research centered on artistic processes. The results would be published in traditional research outlets and also in the form of art exhibitions. Although research about artistic processes was still in its infancy, it was envisioned that SCI ARS would offer an arena for the fusion of research in fields such as creativity, cognition, medicine, computer sciences, and entrepreneurship. To date, it was argued, no dedicated space existed to produce and display the scientific findings, partially in the form of art exhibitions. SCI ARS was to become that dedicated space. The conditions looked promising. The city of Uppsala, located some 70 kilometers north of Stockholm, was in many respects dominated by the university’s presence, stretching back to the late 15th century. It nevertheless, or perhaps because of this fact, lacked any significant institutions for contemporary art. Talks aimed at the creation of new cultural institutions had been going on for decades, but by and large had remained unfruitful. The city comprised a set of well-established and internationally reputed research institutions, including the faculties of medicine, natural sciences, and humanities. The project itself had received some early seed funding from the Foundation of the Culture of the


The dynamics of resistance


Scherdin & Zander

Future, and financing issues could be addressed through support from Anders Wall, a well-known Swedish entrepreneur, philanthropist, and art collector and patron. It was also his network of contacts that had revealed that the owners of a now empty warehouse facility—Senapsfabriken (“The Mustard Factory”)—were looking for new tenants. Members of the project group had extensive knowledge about the workings of the art and cultural arena and maintained local and international networks of contacts in contemporary art circles. In addition, one of the members was involved in original academic research in the intersection of art and entrepreneurship. The project developed over a period of eighteen months. During that time, it saw the formulation of an overarching vision as well as a detailed program for planned activities (contained in what essentially translates into a full-blown business plan), developed through contacts with artists, curators, architects, local art museums, potential financiers, and representatives of Uppsala University. For the first years of operation, financing was to be sought from private individuals and corporations, with Uppsala University as an important supporting partner from the scientific community. It is impossible to account for all the details about the unfolding of the project in this chapter, but two specific events or chains of events stand out in its development. Both of these events—what turned out to be a critical meeting at Uppsala University and the resignation of a member of the project’s advisory board—will be described in more details in the following. The meeting at Uppsala University The meeting at Uppsala University had been preceded by extensive preparations, including a range of meetings with potential financiers, architects, and potential providers of exhibition premises. At a pre-meeting, the business plan had been discussed with the central financier, and these discussions had uncovered international contacts on the contemporary art scene that could be of further help in venture financing. In all probability, contacts between the critical financier and the university’s Vice-Chancellor had created a pre-understanding of the venture and thus prepared the ground for the upcoming meeting. As the project would be asking for formal rather than financial support from the university, it was believed that the issues under consideration were comparatively non-contentious. Let one of the project members retell the events that took place during the meeting itself:

“The imposing main building of the university, located next to the cathedral, the second center of power in Uppsala, displays a number of magnificent meeting rooms. Double doors much taller than the normal person, a number of drawing rooms with century-old oil paintings, paneled and painted walls and ceilings, stucco work, statues and figurines, and impressive marble floors all exude one thing – power: The power of the university, the power of science, and the power of its ultimate custodian, the Vice-Chancellor. An assistant shows us the way to one of the drawing rooms, where a short wait permits a conversation about the art displayed on the walls. We are then shown to a meeting room of a more ceremonial character. It is perhaps a bit misleading to call it a meeting room, as there are no projector screens, projectors or whiteboards. The room has a four meter high ceiling;

there are books and paintings, and a set of chairs that matches the number of attending people. One chair is more like a throne and some 30–40 centimeters taller than the others, placed at the short end of an incredibly heavy black mahogany table. A short wait is followed by the entry of an entourage of people, the Vice-Chancellor being the last one to arrive. The Vice-Chancellor takes a seat on the “throne” and the rest of us—members of the project group and university administrators—are rather pressed together at the other end of the table. There’s about 10 cm between us, about a meter to the Vice-Chancellor. The atmosphere turns very formal, perhaps even ceremonial. When the Vice-Chancellor speaks, everybody sits quietly, eyes turned towards the floor. I wonder how this will end. I notice that everyone in the project group turns very nervous and suddenly it feels impossible to present any thoughts on a more substantial, ethereal level. One by one, we present our case and ambitions, and to my surprise the Vice-Chancellor is very positive. He starts talking about some university premises that may be used for the project and which are fairly central and close to where students move about. Spirits are lifted and we start feeling more confident. The meeting is attended by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the head of administration, and a representative from the faculty of arts, a sort of official advisor in matters that concern art at the university. The advisor asks a few penetrating questions, presumably to test our credibility, but nothing that significantly disturbs the flow of the meeting. It’s going our way. The Vice-Chancellor gives the floor to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, who apparently is responsible for art-related issues at the university. Now the atmosphere turns scrutinizing and probing. One of the opening questions is: “What are others doing in this field?” (supposedly meaning other Swedish universities). It is unclear if there is fear on the part of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of standing out too much from the rest, or whether it is about identifying the uniqueness of the project. We interpret it as a question whether anything similar has been done at other universities, and, truthfully, the answer is there is no project of this type to be found anywhere. No one else at the meeting really knows what is going on in other places, but there is an emerging notion that several of the leading universities might be engaged in this type of activity already. Having now created a mental picture of the project, the Deputy ViceChancellor continues to account for existing cultural activities and events that have taken place at the university and wonders if we couldn’t do exhibitions that would “illustrate scientific projects.” Well, we respond, the main objective perhaps isn’t to hire artists to illustrate scientists’ projects, but collaboration around ongoing research projects could well be a possibility. But wouldn’t it be possible, in light of the upcoming jubilee celebrations, to hire a set of artists to illustrate scientific projects that are exhibited in the centuryold premises of Gustavianum (a venue that is used for the exhibition of the university’s various collections, including historical artifacts and oil paintings, and also houses a unique anatomical theatre from the 17th century)? The discussion gets stuck around the university’s collection of oil paintings, its art collection in general, and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s ambition to expose these collections to a wider audience. The meeting


The dynamics of resistance


Scherdin & Zander

completely loses its ‘ésprit’ and the Vice-Chancellor delegates the project to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. The meeting is over. The question has been removed from the Vice-Chancellor’s desk to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s. A follow-up meeting with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor reveals that the ambition is now to redesign the project so that it fits with the university’s existing art collections and the illustration of science.” Dynamics of the Advisory Board The second salient observation from the SCI ARS project is of a different nature, as it actually consists of a series of events, the drivers of which remain only partially known. The observation concerns the resignation of a member of the advisory board and its effects on further project developments. The advisory board member originally became associated with the project on recommendation by the critical financier. The to-be member’s extensive contacts within the university made this an appealing proposition. An early meeting at the financier’s ruralresidence confirmed ambitions to jointly explore the emerging SCI ARS project, and recommendations were made that the project group establishes contact with an internationally renowned art collector and patron. The meeting ended on an upbeat note, and the group of people in charge of implementing the project had crystallized – an advisory board that throughout the project’s implementation would have between three and four members, and a project group consisting of two core members with select periods of significant involvement of professional architects and web designers. The first indication of emerging complications occurred a few months later, as a contact with the advisory board member unexpectedly revealed concerns about further personal involvement, especially on account of the fact that the member’s name allegedly had been surfacing and used in a number of unsuitable circles. The event left the project group perplexed, as project development and implementation had been of a traditional nature and to the group’s knowledge so far had not involved any controversial moves or discussions. Some months after the contact, the board member announced over the telephone that he wished to resign as an official representative of the project. The reasons remained unexplained, but assurance was given that the decision had nothing to do with the SCI ARS project itself, which remained as interesting and important as before. The question of motives was not pushed further, but there was a strong sense of an unspoken conflict of interests underlying the decision. Internal discussions among project members contemplated the implications for the further development of the project, and also the underlying drivers or motives. Discussion at previous meetings had revealed that the board member maintained separate contacts with the international art patron, and it was speculated that other processes had now been set in motion that directly or indirectly affected the development of the SCI ARS project. At the same time, contacts with the critical financier were becoming less committed than before. Project members speculated there may be another and unknown game going on in parallel to the SCI ARS project. Were plans being drawn for the establishment of a museum for the display of the university’s art collections? Whether this was indeed true remained an unanswered question. Ultimately, the official reasons for the resignation were the board member’s uneasiness with remaining on the advisory board, adding the notion that there was

too limited personal understanding of projects of this nature and too little time to be devoted to its further development. The member’s resignation occurred some eighteen months after the project’s initiation, and with the resignation the project lost important internal legitimacy at the university. It also made it more or less impossible to secure formal support for the intended and, to the project, critical collaboration across arts and scientific research. Discussion As a backdrop and overall framework for the discussion, it may be useful to contemplate the basic nature of the SCI ARS project. Project origin and type of innovation While the origin or source of the project was associated with a distinct event — the realization of the empty warehouse premises of Senapsfabriken and emerging discussions about what activities they may incorporate — it was not the type of event that could be characterized as a crisis. As in many entrepreneurial undertakings, the project was largely opportunity driven, and in organizational contexts these types of projects are known to generate less attention and longer decision times than those that in some way reflect or counteract an apparent crisis (Dutton and Jackson, 1987; Jackson and Dutton, 1988; Nutt, 1998). If compared to the existing art and research institutions in Uppsala, and also seen against the often referred to traditionalism of the city of Uppsala, the SCI ARS project would probably represent a mix of traditional and well-known concepts and comparatively radical elements that differed from current trajectories. In terms of addressing and attracting new visitors or customer groups, the SCI ARS project in part involved traditional activities such as exhibitions and a café section. Similarly, the ‘artist in residence’ concept that was part of the project proposal is established and well-known, especially among individuals active on the art arena. Yet, the project also involved more significant innovation, particularly the ambition to create a new type of forum for interaction across artists and scientists. The exact nature of these activities and effects on creativity and thought processes would have been much more difficult to recognize and evaluate. In terms of modularity, the SCI ARS project did not require significant new developments or alterations in linkages to other and existing activities (cf. Tushman and Anderson, 1986; Henderson and Clark, 1990). It is also notable that for the most part it represented change “into” a new state, rather than change “from” a previous state. This would have attenuated resistance caused by feelings of irreversible loss among individuals or groups affected by the new venture. All in all, the project came without a distinct sense of urgency, moderate levels of novelty and conceptual complexity, and a generally non-threatening stance with regard to already ongoing activities and institutions. Dynamics of resistance The meeting at Uppsala University is interesting as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s probing approach to the original idea set off dynamics with important consequences for the project and its members. In all probability, the probing approach included a mixture of benevolent attempts to help out in the process of identifying a suitable format of the idea, and a perceived notion that as a potential official


The dynamics of resistance


Scherdin & Zander

representative of the university the new concept had to be assessed with existing resources and operations in mind. The latter assessment also involved comparisons with other and partially competing universities. The critical stance in the examination may have been reinforced by the composition of the attending group of university officials, including the Vice-Chancellor and a representative from the faculty of arts. From a process perspective, it would appear highly likely that at least some of the members of the assembled group would take on the official role as critical reviewers with the university’s interests in mind. Whatever the pre-conditions for the discussion, the attempt to re-frame the project into something that deviated significantly from the original idea had two important consequences. In the first place, it created ambiguity among other listeners as to what this new project would really look like, creating associated uncertainty as to which idea and project was evaluated and whether or not it was a good idea. The suddenly enhanced levels of complexity in the decision-making process probably resulted in the feeling that “this project is still in the early phases and requires some further contemplation before anything official can be done about it.” As a second result, the tables were completely turned and the purpose of the meeting changed into one where the original and prospective supporters were selling a project to the project initiators (and others), the effects of which could only be growing frustration and the adoption of a defensive stance towards further negotiations. The general and growing feeling among the project members could be described as: “We’re wasting time here; this was not what the meeting was about.” This second and arguably more significant implication of these dynamics was their strong negative impact on the motivation of the project group members. However benevolent the intentions, attempts at re-formulating the project into something it was not intended to be was extremely discouraging, a fact that was probably exacerbated by the avant-garde nature of the project idea. This was not intended to become a project that would resonate with the century-long traditions of a respectable academic institution; on the contrary, the ambition was to create something that could breathe life and excitement into an otherwise stale and conservative city. And how the project related to “what others do” was perceived as completely irrelevant. The more this avant-garde project would come to resemble what someone else did the more it would lose its freshness, attractiveness and ‘raison d’être.’ After the meeting, there was no mistaking the reactions among the project members – “this has been a complete waste of time and is never going to work, we can forget about the university.” As the aftermath of the university meeting documents, the SCI ARS idea may be described as an idea that was indeed “hijacked” (cf. Scherdin and Zander, 2010), as the presentation at the university gave rise to the idea that the project should focus on various forms of exhibitions to illustrate science. That idea would probably never have emerged without the SCI ARS meeting as an igniting event, and while its ultimate crystallization prevented further progress on the original idea it came without any real intentions which could support an actual launch and a sustained implementation. However benevolent in its origins, the activation of what would otherwise have remained a dormant idea became an effective blocking element to the entire SCI ARS project. With regard to the ultimate resignation of one key member of the advisory board, it should be re-emphasized that we can only speculate about the underlying drivers or motives. It nevertheless remains a fact that the developments were

unexpected and to the project group remained puzzling and largely unexplained, and in that capacity they offer ground for some extrapolation and hypothesizing. One possibility that may find traction in some cases is that the mere introduction of a novel idea and project sets off thought processes and activities that may otherwise have remained dormant. Notably, these would be thought processes and activities unconnected to the ability to understand, buy into, or even offer support for the initiating idea and project. They are, if you wish, thought processes and activities that in the absence of a precipitating event would have remained unrealized Aristotelian possibilities. The emergence and attempted implementation of novel ideas may thus indicate the existence of resources or emerging resource activation, and also that someone has seen potential value in these resources. There is, in other words, a signal of the emergence of opportunities that could potentially be grasped. The effect may be combined with the realization and actualization of projects that may otherwise have remained dormant, but which are now perceived as more promising opportunities. Information gleaned through contacts with members of any currently pursued project could act as a gateway to individuals and organizations in potential possession of valuable resources. In this way, and similar to the dynamics set in motion by the meeting at the university, the original project ignited ideas that would otherwise have remained untried, and it may indeed serve as a shortcut to identifying important resources to be rounded up in the development process. Ultimately, but not necessarily, it may come to a situation where support for the original idea and project gets into conflict with attempts to develop own intentions and engagements, and such cases may witness the unexpected and unexplained withdrawal of prior support and resources. In some instances, events could also turn into direct and active resistance, for example in the form of overt or covert discrediting of the original idea and project. In this way, and in a situation which resembles that of corporate managers who get stuck in attempts of “crossing the chasm” (Moore, 1999), project members who believe things are progressing nicely may stand puzzled as they witness the sudden disappearance of support and success that was thought to be within reach. Implications and lessons learned An overarching impression from what happened during the unfolding of the SCI ARS project is that the strength of resistance is not simply a matter of how well a specific idea or new project is understood and received by others. The main point seems to be that the mere launching of the project sets off dynamics that would otherwise have remained dormant, and which may not necessarily have anything to do with the perceived attractiveness or feasibility of the project itself. These processes may be particularly accentuated and harmful in the context of more radical new ideas, which are ambiguous and therefore open to many alternative interpretations and specifications, and also span time periods which allow competition for potentially available resources to emerge. A first insight of practical relevance concerns how novel ideas and projects could and perhaps should be framed. At the fundamental level, framing is about how individuals attempt to construct meaning and convey a picture of “reality” to other people (Benford and Snow, 2000). The objective is to generate attention to certain issues, problems, or projects and to construct mental models that help others make sense of and evaluate new information. It also comes with the


The dynamics of resistance


Scherdin & Zander

notion that individuals strategically try to communicate pictures of reality that do not necessarily correspond to all “objective” or known facts, i.e. they attempt to convey an appealing picture of novel ideas without resorting to outright misrepresentations of the objective and true facts (Dutton and Ashford, 1993; Dutton et al., 2001; Howells and Higgins, 1990). The framing literature has focused on how to make a novel idea attractive to others and make them “buy into” it; the SCI ARS experience, on the other hand, adds the notion that framing may be just as much about preventing others from developing own and deviating thoughts about what the idea could be instead. While the two aspects are perhaps intertwined, it is not improbable that there are techniques that prevent listeners from going astray and retain them within the framework of a particular train of thought. In other words, successful framing is a matter of balancing the fact that novel ideas must be able to generate interest and find acceptance among others, while at the same time they should not trigger processes that lead to the contemplation of alternative formulations and functions of the original idea. This point is perhaps well-known to many experienced change agents, but to anyone with lesser skills and intuitive framing reflexes it could offer a source of further contemplation and adaptation in the selling process. If there are lessons to be learned in terms of the timing of “going public” with a new idea and project, the (perhaps not entirely helpful) conclusion would be that careful consideration of when to publicly launch a novel idea and project can be of significant importance. In light of the SCI ARS experience, it might have proven more effective to delay external visibility of the project as much as possible and to design a plan that included explicit consideration of how to compress the time for meetings and negotiations with the external parties. This would have reduced the window of opportunity for potentially competing projects to emerge and materialize, partly because the notion of a project that is already well under way and is close to finalization comes with the perception that “the train has left the station.” This would reduce the inclination to actively follow through on other ideas and projects that may have been pulled out of dormancy. An alternative to delayed launch and concerted efforts to compress implementation times would be to secure control over one or several critical resources. While it may not be the case that such control is always achievable, and apart from the level of confidence in the project it may generate among other parties contemplating project support, it would prove a definite advantage in making at least one central resource unavailable to competing initiatives (hence limiting the level of perceived feasibility of such competing initiatives; Krueger, 2000). The SCI ARS experience indeed invokes the question about probabilities of success in radical new ventures that cannot draw on firm commitment from or control over a minimum set of critical resources. Our tentative conclusion would be that such ventures may ultimately work, but that in many cases involving multiple stakeholders they would border on “mission impossible.” Arguably, the findings also come with some potential insights for evaluators of novel ideas and projects, especially if there is a basic willingness and ambition to promote change and progress. For those evaluators, understanding and contemplating how efforts to refine and alter proposed ideas and projects influence the emotions and motivation among project representatives seems particularly important. The core of the issue is awareness of the need for balancing natural and legitimate attempts at probing new ideas and assisting in their development against

the motivational effect this may have on the founding project members. Especially the latter point is probably too often forgotten when the consequences of change are contemplated (Huy, 2002), and it may be particularly important in the context of radical and avant-garde projects, which by nature are expected to deviate from the existing and accustomed models (Chin, 1985). Concluding reflections As we draw our conclusions from the SCI ARS project, we want to re-emphasize that the proposed insights and lessons remain preliminary. They are in part based on extrapolation and speculation, and the extent to which the project can tell us about general occurrences must be verified by future experiences. We would also like to underscore that the presentation has not been intended to blame any specific person or set of events for the demise of the project, as the set of explanatory factors is potentially extensive and remains in large part unknown (including the possibility that SCI ARS was fundamentally a “bad� idea). Our ambition has been to highlight the nature and implications of one or two conspicuous events and processes which have continued to puzzle our minds when revisiting and contemplating the ultimate fate of the SCI ARS project. Also, many of the aspects we have touched upon are likely to have been identified in the prior literature, most likely under different names and across a broad range of fields of research. At the point of writing, we are unaware of the full range of conceptual and theoretical perspectives that may have been brought into the picture and which could better describe, explain, and correct our proposed insights. If there is nevertheless some novelty in the findings and conclusions, they may offer a starting point for some further conceptual elaborations and more focused empirical investigations. In any event, we would expect that some of the experiences that have been accounted for are recognized by practitioners across a range of professional fields. To the extent practitioners would recognize and verify some of our observations and perhaps also find the preliminary conclusions enlightening, we hope that the chapter has contributed one piece to our understanding of resistance and how it is played out in the context of more radical new ideas and projects.


The dynamics of resistance

167 References Baron, R. A. 1998. Cognitive mechanisms in entrepreneurship: Why and when entrepreneurs think differently than other people. Journal of Business Venturing, 13, pp. 275–294.

Scherdin & Zander established firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 1, pp. 9–30. Howell, J. M., Higgins, C. A. 1990. Champions of technological innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 2, pp. 317–341.

Benford, R. D., Snow, D. A. 2000. Framing processes and social movements: An overview and assessment. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, pp. 611–639.

Huy, Q. N. 2002. Emotional balancing of organizational continuity and radical change: The contribution of middle managers. Administrative Science Quarterly, 47, 1, pp. 31–69.

Berglund, K., Gaddefors, J. 2010. Entrepreneurship demands resistance to be mobilized. F. Bill, B. Bjerke, A. W. Johansson (eds.), (De)Mobilizing the entrepreneurship discourse. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Jackson, S. E., Dutton, J. E. 1988. Discerning threats and opportunities. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33, pp. 370–387.

Chin, D. 1985. The avant-garde industry. Performing Arts Journal, 9, 2/3, pp. 59–75. Churchland, P. S. 2002. Brain-wise – Studies in Neurophilosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Dolan, R. J. 2002. Emotion, cognition, and behavior. Science, 298, pp. 1191–1194. Dutton, J. E., Jackson, S. E. 1987. Categorizing strategic issues: Links to organizational action. Academy of Management Review, 12, 1, pp. 76–90. Dutton, J. E., Ashford, S. J. 1993. Selling issues to top management. Academy of Management Review, 18, 3, pp. 397–428. Dutton, J. E., Ashford, S. J., O’Neill, R. M., Lawrence, K. A. 2001. Moves that matter: Issue selling and organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 44, pp. 716–736. Golden, B. R. 1992. The past is the past – or is it? The use of retrospective accounts as indicators of past strategy. Academy of Management Journal, 35, pp. 848–860. Henderson, R. M., Clark, K. B. 1990. Architectural innovation: The reconfiguration of existing product technologies and the failure of

Kahneman, D., Lovallo, D. 1993. Timid choices and bold forecasts: A cognitive perspective on risk taking. Management Science, 39, 1, pp. 17–31. Krueger, N. F. Jr. 2000. The cognitive infrastructure of opportunity emergence. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 24, 3, pp. 5–23. Moore, G. A. 1999. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Products to Mainstream Customers. Chichester: Capstone. Nutt, P. C. 1998. Framing strategic decisions. Organization Science, 9, 2, pp. 195–216. Scherdin, M. 2007. The invisible foot – Survival of New Art Ideas on the Swedish Art Arena. An Autoethnographic Study of nonTVTVstation. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, No. 124. Scherdin, M., Zander, I. (eds.) 2010. Art entrepreneurship. Edward Elgar. Tushman, M. L., Anderson, P. 1986. Technological discontinuities and organizational environments. Administrative Science Quarterly, 31, pp. 439–465. Zander, I. 2007. Do you see what I mean? An entrepreneurship perspective on the nature and boundaries of the firm. Journal of Management Studies, 44, 7, pp. 1141–1164.


The role of users in heating systems transitions — The case  of heat pumps in Finland



The role of users in heating systems transitions — The case of heat  pumps in Finland Eva Heiskanen, National Consumer Research Centre, Finland & Sampsa Hyysalo, Mikko Jalas, JOUNI K. JUNTUNEN and Raimo Lovio, Aalto University School of Economics, Finland

In 1852, Lord Kelvin designed the concept of a Heat Multiplier, in which a heat pump is used for space heating. More than 150 years later, heat pumps are gradually establishing their role as heating systems, but much work remains to be done before they reach their full potential as sustainable heating devices. Scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, large corporations and HVAC engineers have had important roles in putting the heat pump to use in home heating. Yet a neglected aspect of this ‘long march’ is the role of users. Is the heat pump a radical innovation? The technology is so widely used today in refrigerators and air conditioners that it seems almost trivial. Yet the ‘radicality’ of an innovation needs to be analyzed along different dimensions (Callon 1991; Lettl 2006; Poti et al. 2008; Höyssä & Hyysalo 2009), not just the technical dimension. Heat pumps are incremental also in the organizational dimension, for they have been mostly continuous for the capabilities of producers (Abernathy & Clark, 1990). They do hold some novelty in the market dimension, but it is in the social dimension and environmental dimension where their potential radicality lies. In this they resemble the cargo container, a simple steel case, which has been a key technology in transforming modern transportation systems and enabling an exponential growth of global trade flows. The radicality of both technologies lies in their role within a broader sociotechnical transition, where their incremental novelty in the technical and organizational dimension in fact facilitates their uptake. Such a more systemic view of radicality of innovation has been discussed in literatures on large sociotechnical systems (Hughes, 1983; 1988) techno-economic transitions (Freeman & Louca, 2001; Perez, 2003) and multi-level governance of technology (Geels & Schot, 2007; Rotmans, 2005), and forms the background for our present discussion.

In this chapter we focus on the roles that users play in the gradual innovation journey of a technology at the moment when it enters a new geographical and social context. Developers of new more sustainable solutions are usually quite focused on the technology and the institutional environment. When they do address users, it is most often in the context of trying to establish user requirements or to design user-friendly interfaces. Yet, if we take a longer-term perspective on the development of design solutions, we can see that users have several roles in shaping technological design and in influencing the performance of more sustainable technologies. Our focus is on recent developments in Finland, which is one of the leading countries in Europe in terms of numbers of installed heat pumps, in particular air-source and ground-source heat pumps.1 We examine the diverse positions that different users of these technologies occupy at the current stage of development, and the ways in which they influence product designs and product performance. Our central starting point is that innovation and diffusion are not separate processes, but rather a continual process of innofusion as new technologies are adopted by new users (Fleck 1994; Pollock and Williams 2008; Hyysalo 2010). We argue that this is part of the process through which sustainable technologies grow out of narrow niches. The involvement of new users and new contexts of use expands the scope of the technology as it introduces new variations, applications and forms of supporting organization (Raven et al. 2008). 2. The role of users in technological transitions – theoretical perspectives Research on radical technological change has long acknowledged the role of users, but only recently really started to address it. By now, there is a range of studies that have shown the importance of users and usages in technological transition. The first to study the process of radical technological change in detail were historians and historical sociologists. The change in their orientation is instructive. In his classic study of Edison and the early electricity transition, Thomas Hughes examined the extensive system level design involved (1979; 1983). The technical problems posed and solved, the economic calculation of business models, pricing and competition and the social arrangements that Edison devised all formed a “seamless web.” Problems of compatibility, customer resistance etc. feature in this story as issues re-aligned by the system builders. Two decades later, Charles Bazerman (1998) revisited the same archives and showed how user preferences for lighting color, (gas light) distribution conventions, perceptions of fire risk, as well as those of arranged spectacles and convenience were actually central aspects in the expansion of Edison’s electricity system. This change of interpretation is the result of subsequent published research. Among others, Schwartz-Cowan (1983) had examined the co-evolution of housework and new home appliances, Fischer (1992) had brought forth the impressive variety of uses that telephony was put to during its early decades, and Kline & Pinch (1996) had examined how the supposedly fully standardized and mass produced Ford T-model was employed in the rural United States as a power generator, tractor, conveyor belt power source, etc. to the extent that these modifications had their own publication. Other theory traditions appear to follow suit. Research on radical innovation processes was for a long time focused on their paths up to the point of early market



This chapter is based on ongoing research in a project called LAICA (Local adaptation and innovation-inpractice in energy efficiency and carbon neutrality), which is funded by the Academy of Finland (grant number 140906). We draw on studies of user forums as innovation communities (Hyysalo et al. 2013a, b), case studies of user involvement in heat pump deployment (Heiskanen et al. 2011), and our own fieldwork (http://laicahanke. laica-in-english). For the research reported in this chapter, we have also conducted some expert interviews. We are grateful to Jussi Hirvonen (Finnish Heat Pump Association) and Sami Seuna (Motiva Ltd.) for their useful information and insights.

The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

acceptance (van de Ven, 1999; Green, 1993; Duret et al. 1999), but researchers have since emphasized users and usage as well (Lettl et al. 2006; Baldwin et al., 2006; Höyssä & Hyysalo, 2009; Garud forthcoming). The literature on sociotechnical transitions has not been very specific on the role of users, even though their importance has been acknowledged and various roles identified, such as those of opponents, proponents and acquirers of new skills (Geels 2005a; 2005b; Verbong & Geels 2007), and the importance of actively involving users in technological transitions is stressed (Smits and Hertog 2007). This unspecific treatment is likely due to the more macro-level data that transition analyses tend to operate with. An extension of the study timeframe into the use phase calls for different types of data, methods and theoretical resources. Until the early 1990s, sociologists of technology assumed that if users and other stakeholders are to have an impact on technology, they must have it before the form and meaning of the technology stabilize (Bijker, 1995; Noble, 1986). Once the technology design and related infrastructure are locked in place, users’ choices appeared to be narrowed down to adoption or non-adoption. Even within such constraints users played several key roles: a)


c) d) e)

Users were sources of inventive new technologies in areas where extant products did not cater to their specific needs. Even as the further development often took place mostly in R&D companies, the lead-user designs spurred new product lines and improved earlier ones (von Hippel, 1976; 1988). Users are a vital source of information for developing new design versions, both as respondents to marketing research ever since the 1930s (Marchand, 1998), as well as more engaged participants in customer tailored systems (Öberg, 2010). Users also improve early designs, as has been the case with solar heaters and woodchip burners (Ornetzeder and Rohracher 2006). Early adopters had a strong influence on what uses and directions new technologies and social organization around them took, as well as the norms governing them (Bijker 1995; Fleck, 1993a; 1993b; Flichy, 2006; Acera, 2002). Users can also actively oppose or passively reject new technologies, or they can undermine their intended effects by failing to use them according to expectations (Verbeek and Slob 2006; Akrich, 1992; Oudshoorn, 2003).

By the mid-1990s, however, the proliferation of networked home computers and other ICTs moved research beyond the assumption of closure. f)


Studies of home consumption revealed that instead of being passive adopters, ordinary consumers were active in adapting the configuration and meaning of technologies to make them work (Silverstone et al. 1992; Lie & Sorensen, 1996). In effect, they were domesticating technology into the moral economy of the household and contributing to the long-term taming of new types of technology. Further research has since shown this to take place beyond ICTs (Sorensen & Williams, 2001; Berger et al. 2006), some suggesting that 10–40% of all users significantly alter some products that they use (von Hippel, 2005). The history of the Internet, multimedia and workplace ICTs show how more advanced peers, “warm experts,” were central in educating other users (Bakardjieva 1997) as were semi-professional “local experts” who seconded their help in addition to their main jobs (Stewart 2007; Voss et al 2010).

The real crux of the matter, however, lies in the realization that many new technologies do not follow linear patterns, where the design is “closed” before it starts to diffuse (Fleck, 1994; Williams et al. 2005). Most technologies tend to involve innofusion, i.e., iterative loops between design and use, often lasting as long as several product generations (Pollock & Williams, 2008; Hyysalo, 2010). Users’ domestication, add-on solutions, selective appropriation, integration into other devices, co-evolution of practices and new technology, new uses, (re-)inventions and efforts to market the technology shape the technology at local adopter sites, as well as enter the many feedback loops that circle between suppliers and users. Many small streams contain a lot of water! The most recent changes in the understanding of the role of users in technological transitions are the result of the rapid proliferation and sophistication of digital sharing platforms in the 3rd millennium. a)


c) d)

Previously unconnected users have formed communities of interest on the web that also share and iterate designs. Such user innovation communities have proliferated far beyond open source software and are designing many products without suppliers (Tapscot and Williams, 2010; Jeppesen and Molin, 2003). Manufacturers, in turn, are busy setting up their own user innovation community efforts (Jeppesen and Fredriksen, 2006; Fuller, 2006). Living labs, web-based innovation areas, and user groups mark some of the widespread practices in how users are being actively connected to facilitate company R&D. User-configurable content and designs have become more commonplace, particularly in social media applications, games and mass customized products (Benkler, 2006; Tapscot and Williams, 2010). Internet user forums, blogs and discussion platforms have allowed users to pool their experiences and reveal their designs to other users. This has led to a “do-it-yourself renaissance,” in which self- and collectively-created artifacts are gaining new impetus (e.g. Kuznezov and Paulos, 2010).

Design research has not stood idle in the face of these revelations. The early participatory and user-centered design approaches, and by far the majority of co-design efforts today, have focused on concept design or pre-launch engagement with users (Bjerkness, 1987; Sanders & Stappers, 2008). This millennium has brought in cumulative co-design approaches that continue design in use settings and across several product generations, utilizing the inventive inputs and further elaboration of requirements by the users as starting points for new rounds of designer input (Voss et al. 2009; Botero et al. 2010; Johnson, forthcoming). Taken together these roles of users in technological transitions underline that users are a major contributing as well as inhibiting force in a given innovation and technological transition. At a given time and for a given innovation, only some of these roles are present; only a few may turn out to be important on their own accord and just as few may be of such quality that designers, companies or policy makers can base their actions on them. Innofusion, i.e., concomitant innovation and diffusion, is more relevant for configurational technologies than for tightly-coupled systemic technologies that leave little scope for user modifications. Configurational technologies are created


The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

from existing (often standard) component technologies and some customized elements (Stewart and Williams 2005). This is fairly characteristic of home heating systems, where the diversity of homes creates the need for at least some degree of configuration. In the following, we delve into the case of heat pumps in order to discover how users feature in consecutive design cycles of applying the technology to home heating in Finland. Heat pumps are relevant for this analysis for several reasons. Firstly, they are widely used in Nordic homes and make a large contribution to carbon emission reductions. Secondly, due to declining prices of some heat pump types, their use has virtually exploded in recent years in Finland, offering a huge diversity of users and use contexts for us to examine. We first outline the history and institutional context in which heat pumps have emerged as heating system, and then explore in more detail several different roles that users can play in this ongoing transition. 3. The case of heat pumps in Finland Historically, heat pumps have entered the heating system market from a somewhat marginal position. They have been in direct competition with centralized energy producers – some even argue they were suppressed by them (Sumner 1976). The market has not, until recent years, been dominated by large companies. Heat pumps have encountered significant suspicion in mainstream markets, which has required entrepreneurship and lead users for the creation of initial markets. Even though the concept of space heating with heat pumps was outlined in the mid-19th century, it took years before the first patents were filed and the first buildings heated with heat pumps were constructed anywhere in the world (Svec 1987; Schaefer 2000). For decades, these were unique custom-built experimental constructions, mostly based on ground or water heat sources (Sumner and Mech 1948; Hatten and Morrison 1995; Schaefer 2000). It was not until the energy crisis in the 1970s that heat pump projects started to increase in numbers and the first industrially produced ground-source heat pumps appeared in the European market (Svec 1987). The most commonly used heat pump types used today are ground-source heat pumps, air-source heat pumps (including exhaust air heat pumps) and watersource heat pumps (EHPA 2011). The heat pump unit consists of a heat source, the heat pump unit, and a distribution system for heating (and/or cooling) the building. Air source heat pumps use the ambient energy in outside or exhaust air, water source heat pumps use energy stored in water, and ground-source heat pumps use energy stored in the ground (EHPA 2011). The heat pump “condenses” thermal energy from the lower-temperature source to the higher-temperature heating distribution system. This is done with the help of a refrigerant, which is compressed to absorb heat, and is then passed through a condenser to release that heat to the heat distribution system. Heat pumps are thus capable of producing approximately 3–4 kWh of heat using about 1 kWh of auxiliary energy (usually electricity), whereas the rest of the heat is derived from the surroundings. They constitute a significant technology for counteracting climate change, especially in Europe and other northern latitudes. Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of EU CO2 emissions. According to the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA 2008), if heat pumps were installed in all new and renovated single-family homes in Europe, they would allow Europe to reach and even exceed the European

1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010

targets for a 20% increase in renewable energy, 350,000 20% reduction in energy demand and 20% 300,000 reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020. 250,000 The sale of heat pumps has, indeed, increased rapidly since 2000 in several countries. 200,000 In 2010, more than 750,000 units were sold in 150,000 Europe (EHPA 2011). Internationally leading 100,000 countries in Europe, apart from Sweden, are Norway, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Ger50,000 many and France. On a per capita basis, the 0 largest number of heat pumps is sold annually AAHP in the Nordic Countries (European Heat Pump GSHP Statistics, Outlook 2011). However, this has been the result of a slow, but accelerating development. The ground-source heat technologies of the 1970s and 1980s posed several problems. As a result, growth in installations halted in most countries as the price of energy declined, apart from Sweden, where ground-source heat installations remained quite strong throughout the 1980s and the 1990s. The recent boom of heat pumps came to Finland via Sweden, where the Swedish state had supported significant quality development in the 1990s via technology procurement, municipal and national energy advisory services, and a subsidy scheme for the phase-out of oil boilers (Lind 2009). Finland started to follow the Swedish development in the late 1990s, mainly based on Swedish technology imported by small local companies, in addition to a few small national producers. The Finnish National Heat Pump Association SULPU was established in 1999. Its main focus was to expand the market for heat pumps by developing a reliable reputation for the industry and thus increasing customer confidence (certification schemes for heat pumps and for installers, stimulating research). Increased energy prices and modest state subsidies helped to start a rapid growth in installed units in 2005. Air-to-air heat pumps entered the Nordic market fairly late. They emerged on the market in the United States in the 1950s, and they became popular starting in the early 1970s in Japan, the United States and France, among others (Goldschmidt 1984). However, for a long period of time, they were deemed inappropriate for heating in cold climates. Air-source heat pumps entered the Nordic countries in the wake of exhaust-air heat pumps, increasingly installed in new buildings starting in the late 1990s (Lundqvist 2008). In Finland, air-source heat pumps first became visible in sales statistics in 1993, and growth in sales has increased explosively since 2004 (Figure 8.1). One of the reasons for their huge popularity is the relatively small investment cost (1,000 – 2,000 EUR as compared to 15 – 20,000 for ground-source heating systems). Heat pumps gained a prominent role in Finnish energy policy since they were accepted as a renewable energy source under the RES Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC). It was discovered that heat pumps produce about 0.5% of total energy consumption in Finland, amounting to about 2 TWh of renewable energy. Ambitious targets have been set for 2020, when the goal is to quadruple the current production to 8 TWh (NREAP 2011). Until now, however, state involvement in the technology has been extremely limited. There has been very little university-level research, and subsidies for heat pump installations are limited. Most importantly,


Figure 8.1 The number of ground-source heat pumps (GSHP) and air-source heat pumps (AAHP) in use in Finland 1976–2010 (Sulpu 2011)

The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

state-supported advice, testing and certification have only just started. The market, while vibrant, also involves significant quality problems with many small companies entering and exiting at a rapid pace. Uncertainty and controversies among experts have left the field open for competing claims, arguments, and contradictory pressures. Until now, users have thus had to mostly fend for themselves. Some of the users have done extremely well, as we shall see in the next chapter, which deals with Finnish user innovations in heat pumps. Others have taken it upon themselves to offer advice and peer support, as will be shown in section 5, on “warm” and “local” experts. Yet others have struggled to make the technology work, as we show in section 6 on “the problematic ordinary user.” 4. Users as innovators As introduced in section 2, Internet-based user forums have proliferated and come to play an increasingly important role in innovation. The heat pump user forums in Finland are hugely popular. The main Finnish heat pump forums ( and together feature more than 230,000 posts and over 16,000 discussion threads by over 6,900 discussants during the past five years. alone has been viewed over 40 million times. These forums are established and run by users. They are an important venue for user innovation in heat pumps, since Finland features no producer-centered ecosystems to attract user contributors. Our enquiry into inventions and modifications by heat pump users revealed over one hundred cases. Twenty of these can be called user designs (see Botero et al. 2010), which altered several subsystems of a heat pump or re-constructed some of its subsystems entirely (see Figure 8.2 for one example). Many user projects were more restricted in scope. Thirty alterations were confined within one subsystem of a heat pump. These we call user modifications, and users also created what we call add-on features, which enhanced heat-pumps by adding new parts to them without altering the initial product. Some users did not alter the make-up of their equipment as such, but significantly relocated and repurposed heat-pumps or their subsystems in a manner that brought benefits not offered by the present manufacturers. In addition to these, we found various user work-arounds, hacks and rebuildings of heat-pumps from different initial configurations. When we examine where user improvements have been targeted in the heat pump equipment, it turns out they have been capable of improving next to all aspects of existing equipment. For instance in air-source heat pumps, we identified improvements to more than twenty major subsystem areas, each having several subsystems. Inventions have been made in all the system areas, apart from the compressor unit. Out of the tens of subsystems within

Figure 8.2 User-built control logic circuit for self-made air-towater heat pump design

Consumption Water Supply 20°c

Hot Water Boiler

Indoor Unit Electronics Consumption Water Feed 4°c

Supply 28–32°c Circulation Water for Radiators Return 20–22°c Plate Heat – Exchanger Condenser

Outdoor Unit

the subsystem areas only eight remained intact from user improvements (Hyysalo et al. forthcoming a). There is a strong impression that these areas with no additional inventions are ones in which off-the-shelf components are highly integrated and perform their function so cheaply and reliably that users simply have not bothered to alter them. So users are inventive, and they are capable of making innovations in central parts of complex heating systems such as heat pumps. But what comes out of these modifications? To clarify this issue, let us examine four development trajectories of these user innovations, graphically depicted in Figure 8.4. The first development trajectory began with a man who lived in the far north of Finland, where ground-source heat enjoys obvious benefits, as outside temperatures remain between -10 C and -40C for months each winter. The user had been active with heat pump technology and had built, among others, a dualsource heat pump, which uses ground-source or air-source heat depending on which one is in a more effective temperature range. He had close connections to a small coolant application company, owned by a relative, and eventually joined the business as minority owner. For the company, this lead user designed a so-called ground-air heat-pump. Existing ground-source heat pumps on the market relied on water central heating for transmitting the heat around the house. However, many older houses using wood or direct electric heating lack water central heating, and for such homes, the cost of the necessary plumbing makes ground-source heat unfeasible. Our first lead user designed and prototyped a unit combining a groundsource heat pump’s underground liquid circuit with an air-source heat pump’s convector unit. This required new system-level design and changes in various


Figure 8.3 Technical diagram of user designed system shared among the users in a DIY section of their Internet forum

The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

subsystems. The system is now commercially available from a small company called Jääsähkö Oy. This company wanted to find a niche solution that would not attract large heat pump vendors as competitors. Hence in this case the interaction arena for development included various knowledge repositories but most importantly the face-to-face meetings between the kinsmen. The design targets a big CO2 problem in the Finnish housing stock, namely the considerable number of 400,000 houses with direct electric heating, some of them located in regions where air-source heat pumps are not effective. In the next trajectory, the user-run interaction arena is more diverse. In the late 2000s, several users began revamping air-source heat pumps into airto-water heat pumps by removing the indoor convector unit and connecting the outdoor air source collector to a liquid circuit in the water central heating of the house. This was done to several different models, but the most extensive and apparently most prolific project was on Fujitsu, called “repomiehen vilppi.” The project has initiated wide discussion, which still continues actively on the user forum. The number of replies to date totals over 300 and the topic has received more than 18,000 readers. In all, the pseudonym “repomies” has been posted over 5,000 times over a two-year time span, including all iterations, measurements and additions. All the while other users contributed insights to emerging design issues. There are indications that at least tens if not hundreds of other users have repeated the design using the instructions posted. The design required reconfiguring the coolant circuit, building the indoor circuit heat exchanger, adding in new sensors and control logic for both indoor and outdoor units, creating reference data for successful control etc. While the energy saving USER User 1: Ground source heat pump to a house without water central heating. Air heat pump inside unit as a convector. Idea of “GAHP” User 2: Turning air heat pump into air water heat pump (AWHP) (at 10–20% of cost) User 3: AWHP function can be logged and remote controlled with computer and cell phone. An addition to initial AWHP user design User 4: Dual source heat pump that uses ground source in the winter and air when air is warmer than ground “DGAHP”


Figure 8.4 Development paths of four user innovation projects


MEETING Relative’s coolant appliance SME INTERNET FORUM Posted extensively at the forum DYI AWHP becomes popular hack among users

On sale in Finland. SME manufactures on order

Posted at the Forum and news spreads EMAIL DISCUSSION Idea revealed to a Chinese manufacturer as next to all primary HP manufacturing is in China CATALOGUE Product added to selection (

中囸 Producer X in China. Product not in range.

Producer Y in China in the same city.

is not optimal, it beats an ordinary air-source heat pump and the cost is only 10% of the off-the-shelf air-to-water heat pump. Our third example is a follow-up of this development. Another user copied the above design and then built software and controls to log and remotely control the system. This design includes full home automation controls that can be PCbased and monitor and control several systems within the house. This is witness to the typically sequential character that user designs take in the forums. In our final example trajectory here, we follow the ideation of another dualsource heat pump. Again the idea was posted in the Internet forum and then iterated by several users. In the first example, we saw how it was implemented by the user, and there was also an alternative development pathway initiated by other users. The original user contacted a Chinese producer of the air-source heat pump and suggested the design of a dual-source heat pump. The manufacturer responded by apologizing that they could not produce the model and were not interested in pursuing it. However, only a year later another Chinese manufacturer, perhaps not co-incidentally from the same city as the one the Finn had contacted, listed exactly the same design on the Internet market place as its own invention. These four trajectories highlight important features in how inventive users are involved in the innovation processes of heat pumps. First, users appear to be inventing due to a combination of circumstances and competence. Their projects typically begin in circumstances that the mass manufacturers of heat pump equipment have not considered or seen as worth pursuing. Users have either expanded the design space for this equipment type or exploited a niche in a design space that mass market products have not exploited. User inventions hence sign-post terrain for manufacturers to enter. They also fill in gaps in the extant offerings on the market. On both counts they pave the way for equipment that is better suited for varying local conditions. Second, user inventions and their proliferation are a result of “interaction arenas,� but these arenas are not uniform development spaces or markets. Nearly all inventive users in heat pumps are active in sharing and gaining expertise in peer-to-peer networks, mostly in user-run Internet forums. They engage in peerto-peer because of the lack of necessary information elsewhere in the ecosystem (comprised of producers, resellers, importers, regulators, groups giving professional training, etc.). Internet forums provided initial help and exemplars and, crucially, an environment where one could try, fail and improve with some support (Hyysalo et al., forthcoming b). The process of legitimate peripheral participation (Lave & Wenger, 1991) is important in heat pumps as they combine several distinct specialist domains: coolant systems, electronics, software, and in many cases also plumbing. All of the user inventors whom we interviewed had started with modifications for which they had background competency: coders built software, electronics engineers hacked sensors and so on. From the outset, none of them had the competency to bridge into a more overarching (re)design, but this emerged gradually in the course of their engagement, often in the course of months and years. Alongside peer help, the forums provided a substantial amount of instructions, manuals, photographs, videos, links, calculators, etc. stored in the forum, turning it into a collective tool box and memory repository (cf. Torrey at al. 2007; 2009). Nonetheless, the peer-to-peer interaction arena did not reach the manufacturers. Insofar as manufacturers were involved in the loop, this was due to users’ particular efforts to reach out to them.


The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

5. Users as warm or local experts The terms ‘warm’ and ‘local’ experts derive from research on the early stages of the Internet society (Bakardjieva 2005; Stewart 2007). Here, researchers discovered the importance of more experienced users for the widespread appropriation of ICTs. The terms ‘warm’ and ‘local’ expert have slightly different nuances, but in general they denote people who help others with their personal adoption of new technologies, assist in interpreting what the technologies might mean for their lives, and provide ongoing and practical support in use (Stewart 2007). Warm/ local experts thus possess (a) a working knowledge of a technology that is still unfamiliar to most and (b) an existing personal relationship with the novice user. According to Bakardjieva (2005), this means that they experience the users’ immediate situation and act as interpreters between the technical system and the users’ daily lives. They are not merely unbiased interpreters, however, but also pass on their own understandings, rules of thumb and recommendations. How do heat pump users help each other? One of the most visible manifestations of help from more experienced to less experienced users are the user forums discussed in the previous section. Apart from the do-it-yourself section, the forum Lämpö hosts a wider range of content for less innovative users. Most of the almost 188,000 posts on the forum deal with common problems encountered by users of heat pumps. There are sections on various heat pump types, their selection, correct placement and installation. There are discussions dedicated to various makes and models. There are also sections on sales, installation and user experiences (including detailed posts of performance monitoring data). The forum also includes a variety of help topics for beginners. These include a starter’s guide, various checklists, ratings of models and installers, photos of installations and helpful links. All this content is generated by more-or-less experienced users for the purpose of sharing know-how that is often acquired through a laborious process of trial and error. The forum is nation-wide, so participants cannot be termed ‘local.’ Most participants do not have pre-existing personal relationships, so they are not necessarily ‘warm’ in the strictest sense. However, the sharing of tests, monitoring data and other technical details is accompanied by contextual information, personal experience and a straightforward, sometimes emotional commentary that renders the forum much more than a technical source of information. Warm or local experts are usually defined in terms of personal, face-to-face contacts. There is no systematic research on the role of this type of peer advice in the case of heat pumps. However, there are examples, such as a local residents’ project called Evaluating Heat Pumps (Heiskanen et al. 2011). The project was launched in 2007 by two neighbors in a small Finnish town. They had a personal need to find solutions to the rising cost of electrical heating and decided to organize a collective search for information. They organized a local exhibition for heat pump sales reps, and conducted a survey to find residents who already owned heat pumps and were willing to share their experiences and information events with invited experts. They also organized an evaluation of air-to-air heat pumps, in which COP values, noise, efficiency and warranties were assessed for 82 models with the help of a professor from a technical university. Thirteen models deemed appropriate for local conditions were selected, tenders for heat pumps and installations were collected, and on this basis, recommendations were made on the heat

pumps with the best price/quality ratio. While the local resident activists were not ‘warm’ experts at the start, through their project they gained the ability to offer their neighbors tailored, locally relevant advice that was based on both technical expertise and user experiences. We can offer two examples of our own efforts to stimulate discussion, common sensemaking, and sharing of experiences as part of the promotion of heat pump solutions. They highlight the importance of peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge. They also show that the heterogeneity of users can be an advantage (Stewart 2007), as more experienced users are willing and often eager to share their experience and expertise with others. 6. The problematic “ordinary user” The examples in the previous sections show that users can have an active and important role in expanding the scope of heat pump technologies. Yet they also point to problems in integrating heat pumps smoothly into the everyday life or ordinary users. Juntunen (2011) has studied the adoption of renewable energy technologies in the home as a process of domestication (Hirsch et al. 1992; Pantzar 1997; Berker et al. 2006). There is much work involved in becoming a competent user of a heat pump. The energy demand of the home needs to be estimated. The right size and type of appliances and systems need to be selected and acquired. They need to be installed and find a place in the household. Their use needs to be integrated into everyday routines. For many users, these processes do not follow the ‘ideal’ of active users or the ‘ideal’ of technical specifications. Figure 8.5 Neighbors examining a ground-source heating system borehole


The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

What do people learn from their neighbors’ examples? In order to help homeowners and give them confidence to make the decision, real-life examples and peer-to-peer advice is often crucial. One concept for sharing such experience is Open Homes (Hamilton and Killip 2009), developed in the UK. These are events where owners are asked to open their homes on a particular day so that others can visit them, learn about the renovations and ask questions. The concept has been popular in the UK and has helped to mobilize peer-to-peer learning on various aspects of energy renovation. Real-life, situated examples and the stories of the people who carried out those projects offer information that cannot be found in books or by consulting experts. Stimulated by this example, we have participated in developing a Finnish variation on the Open Homes theme in two neighborhoods that are part of a Carbon-Neutral Municipalities project. Based on suggestions by locals, our variation on the theme of Open Homes is an organized walk during which the participants visit a number of homes with ‘progressive’ heating systems, and possibly other points of interest. Both walks have included a home with a recently installed ground-source heat pump (Figure 8.5). What do people learn from their neighbors’ examples? Some of the questions presented at the events are fairly obvious: what did it cost, which products and services were used, how much disruption does the change of heating system involve, and how satisfied are the users with their solution? Users receive advice from more experienced users on system design, planning regulations, selection of service providers and financing options. An important topic is also how many ground-source heat pumps are installed in the neighborhood and what kind of service and advice is available locally. Apart from this, there is much more to learn about everyday life with a groundsource heat pump. These questions center on how the family has taken up the new system, how much disruption is involved in installing the new system and how it fits into the home. They also deal with what kind of person the experienced user is: Is he or she similar or somehow different from me? Does it take a lot of time and competence to acquire and use this kind of heating system? What do the other participants think and say about this heating system? Does the new heating system engender respect or disbelief among the neighbors? The feedback received on the Open Homes events has been positive. There is increasing demand for such events. We have also noticed that some service providers have started to organize similar events. We are waiting to see whether appliance designers will join in.

Local expertise and assessment of ground-source heat pumps Heating systems are embedded in various ownership structures. In the case of heat pumps, most users are also homeowners who occupy and manage detached houses or terrace houses. The choices of these heating systems and the management and operation of them can be seen as part of house-keeping or semi-professional facility management. In this realm, some common rules-of-thumb exist for good house-keeping, but there are also building-specific history and user specific needs that intervene with general, widely applicable knowledge. What is a reasonable solution for each house and each family, and what is the right time to engage in projects or make investments are highly contextspecific issues. Recognizing such diversity, we engaged in an intervention to support local decision-making to lower the carbon footprint of a small community of detached houses in Raimela, Southwest Finland. Feeding the residents with general technical information, economic assessments and best-practice examples about energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, we attempted to mobilize the community in a self-supportive, shared attempt to improve the quality of the neighborhood, cut down carbon emissions, and make wise economic decisions. In a series of meetings between interested homeowners and us, it became evident that ground-source heat pumps were the most viable option. More specifically, and after first promoting a more centralized solution, we ended up supporting an organized tendering process to purchase heat pumps for all interested households in the community. Peer-to-peer support proved critical at Raimela (Figure 8.6). The homeowners who had installed GSHP embraced their systems and lent particular support to the dimensioning of the heat collection circuits. There were also people with more or less obvious, relevant expertise such as electricians, plumbers and accountants, each capable of assessing solutions from different angles. In addition, rather than discussing payback times and the technical lifetime of the products, which we had expected, the discussions focused on the convenience of the heating-systems and the physical placement and installation of the equipment. More surprisingly, the homeowners engaged in mutually supportive speculation of the effects of government subsidies, the competition, pricing and profit-margins in the market for heat pumps, and consequently, about the right timing of investments. Some of the local discussants took an active and supportive stand and became ‘warm’—but not experts—while at the same time having an interest in getting many households involved. However, many of these initial supporters of the venture withdrew for various reasons, and the initiative faded. It may be that investments in GSHP are so complex that many felt reluctant to get involved in and be accountable for the decisions of their neighbors. As a result, it appears that peer-to-peer support led to some pro-adoption views about the ease of maintenance of GSHP and produced reliable knowledge about the right dimensioning of the system. However, the same process was good at troubleshooting the technology and escalating viewpoints and reasonings that did not support adoption. It became obvious that while our knowledge about heat pumps and energy efficiency was more extensive, the locally developed knowledge was more relevant.


The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

Figure 8.6 Discussing ground-source heat at a local event in Raimela

In terms of technical potential, heat pumps are ingenious devices. Most of the literature assumes that ground-source heat pumps have a coefficient of production performance (COP) of about 3 under Finnish conditions (Heljo and Laine 2005; Honkapuro et al. 2009), and air-to-air heat pumps slightly less, about 2.8 (Honkapuro et al. 2009). This suggests that 1 kWh of electricity produces about 3 kWh of heat. A simplified inference from these figures would be that a groundsource heat pump reduces heating energy demand by about 60–70%. Air-to-air heat pumps usually have a smaller capacity and are calculated to render savings of about 20–30% (Honkapuro et al. 2009). Even though the measurement of heat pump performance itself is extremely problematic (Seuna 2011), the few existing studies of actual heat pump use suggest that heat pumps do not save as much as expected under average usage conditions. A study of 78 Finnish air-to-air heat pump users (Elvari 2010) indicated a wide range of performance, from increased energy use after installation, through modest savings for the majority, to only a very few households saving more than 25%. These figures, however, are not corrected for outdoor temperature variations (Seuna 2011). Taking this into account, average savings are still well below 20%. Similar modest impacts on savings have been found in some other countries (Christensen & Gram-Hanssen 2011; Bradford et al. 2011). There are several reasons for the modest real-life performance of air-to-air heat pumps: × A key issue is the fact that conventional homes do not allow optimal airflow because they consist of several rooms. Hence, figures gained from heating a single space of the same size cannot be transposed to real-life homes,

which are ‘inconveniently’ compartmentalized into living-rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, hallways and bathrooms. Only part of these spaces can be heated with an air-to-air heat pump (Seuna 2011). × An air-to-air heat pump is a multipurpose product that is used for both heating and cooling. Users may start with one usage purpose and shift towards the other (Juntunen 2011). Extraordinarily warm summers have increased the demand for air-to-air heat pumps. The primary purpose of acquisition can be cooling in the summer, yet usage may extend to heating in winter. A similar transition of usage happens in the other direction, in which case summer cooling can be seen as a rebound effect, even though it does not play a significant role in the total energy consumption. × In recent years the cost structure of technology has decreased because of increased demand and higher production volumes of air heat pumps, especially in China. Low prices have created a true mass market for the technology. At the same time, products that are not optimally designed for the Nordic climate and heating purposes have entered the market. The difference in COP level between best and worst performing units can be over 1 (COPD>1). In terms of heat production this means that the best performing unit can produce twice as much heat energy that the lowest performing unit (Leivo et al 2008). × Efficiency is further lost through inappropriate installation and placement of the heat pump (Pulkkinen 2009; Elvari 2010; Seuna 2011). There are examples of indoor units placed up against the ceiling, thus restricting airflow. Loss of efficiency and even total breakdown can occur due to insufficient evacuation of the compressor. Much of this can be viewed as the responsibility of HVAC installers. × During use, the most common problem relates to inappropriate temperature settings of other heating sources (or difficulties in adjusting such settings) and poor maintenance (Elvari 2010; Seuna 2011). If other heating sources such as radiators are not set at a temperature below the settings of the heat pump, this can lead the heat pump starting cooling rather than heating the space. The same situation may occur when using the fireplace in combination with “automatic” settings for the heat pump. Common problems also relate to maintenance: inner unit filters can be clogged or outer units start to ice over (see Figure 8.7). Ground-source heat pumps are not commonly believed to involve so many problems. They are more expensive systems, designed originally for the purpose of heating and manufactured specifically for local conditions. However, some studies suggest that even ground-source systems do not always deliver the expected savings in real-life conditions. A study of 58 houses using ground-source heat (Zenebe Defega 2010) suggested that experienced savings ranged from 14% to 70% of heating energy consumption (calculated as the difference between summer and winter consumption and compared to direct electric heating). A study in the UK found a similar range of variation (Caird et al. 2012). While this picture may be somewhat too bleak, there are several logical reasons for some level of variation in performance (Seuna 2011), including the difficulty of predicting the necessary depth of boreholes for vertical borehole loop systems, lower efficiency of older systems installed in existing buildings, and inappropriate heat curve


The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

settings (i.e., unnecessarily hot water in the central heating network). Ground-source heat pumps thus also require quite a lot of good planning, sound judgment and experience from system installers. They also require users who give at least a modicum of attention to the operation of the system, and respond in a timely fashion to problems. Until now, this has been difficult, as electricity has been billed on a yearly basis. Real-time metering and billing is just being introduced and is likely to alert users more rapidly to any problems occurring. The crucial role of users in heat pumps is partly due to the immature stage of the technology and the varying quality of products and services. Many of the problems described above relate to failures in planning and installation – something often done by relatively small service companies that have not originally specialized in heat pump system design and installation. In the early boom of air-to-air heat pumps, many of these companies are not particularly competent or reliable – and many players believe “competition will eliminate the bad apples, in time” (Pulkkinen 2009). Problems also arise in use – especially air-to-air heat pumps require cleaning and maintenance, and both types of heat pumps require monitoring and control, as well as appropriate responses to any deviations. This is typically done—or omitted—by the user. Heat pumps would, thus, require fairly skillful and committed users. However, home heating systems are a hobby only for a minority of users. For most, heating is a “background” factor, an infrastructure, which should not intrude significantly into daily patterns. This is the case, in particular, for new homeowners, who are used to the convenience of district-heated apartments, as well as for homeowners who previously enjoyed the relative simplicity of electric heating or the well-established service related to oil heating. Heat pump technology is thus somewhat of a paradox from the point of view of the users. When compared with oil boilers or wood-based heating, it is regarded simply as an easy and convenient source of heat. Yet, there are hidden problems and required tasks of maintenance that may not be anticipated or recognized even during use. When people adopt heat pumps because they desire convenience, they are not eager to get as involved in use as might be necessary. On the other hand, households that previously heated with electricity do not approach heat pump-based systems as a convenience technology, which makes more room for active user involvement. From a technical or environmental perspective, one might argue that (at least some) ordinary users are foolish or careless. However, the entry of air-to-air heat pumps into the lives of hundreds of thousands of ordinary users inevitably changes the logic of use from that of the aficionados, lead users and local experts. One example of this is the dual purpose of the air-to-air heat pump, which

Figure 8.7 An extreme case of icing over of the outer unit of an air-source heat pump

supports the sales of the technology. Whereas energy investments are predominantly evaluated in economic terms, the cooling feature of the air-to-air heat pump drives purchase decisions away from economic considerations. The value of cooling cannot be defined purely in economic terms and purchase decisions cannot be based only on calculations of payback time. Hence, embedding value-adding features in energy technologies can change the evaluation logics of consumers (cf. Lampel 2001). By examining the failures contributing to less-than-optimal average performance of heat pumps, we can also discern roles that have—as yet—been mostly left to users. Because of limited standards and the early stage of certification systems and advice by the public sector, users have been left a great responsibility in steering the market and using the technology. The competent user should: × × × × ×

select the appropriate heating system for their particular building make sure that their products and service providers are competent and their claims and plans are realistic monitor installation and make sure all pitfalls have been avoided monitor and adjust their system and make the correct responses to deviations maintain their system and adapt heating practices (i.e., their life at home) to its requirements

7. Diverse types of users and diverse roles in the design of heat pumps Great strides have been taken since the energy crisis in the use of heat pumps as a sustainable source of space heating. While industrial and institutional players have had important roles in both promoting and obstructing the spread of the technology, less attention has been paid to the roles of users. These vary at different times and places. They are crucial at the early stages, but if we view technological design as a process of consecutive design cycles, we can see that there are “many early stages.” In present-day Finland, we are still in one of those many early stages as far as the use of heat pumps for home heating is concerned. From the following, we can identify a heterogeneous set of users in the present Finnish market for heat pumps: 1)


Innovative lead users actively and purposefully engage in product development. Quite often, their aims are idiosyncratic, but some of them actively aim to influence the market of heat pumps in one way or another. They may commercialize their designs themselves or attempt to get manufacturers to include them in their product range. They do not make much use of commercial services, because they install their appliances themselves. Hence, they do not directly influence the service market. However, the photos that they post on the forums may be instructive for installers or their customers. Their messages, however, may be incomprehensible to ordinary users – who may also find it difficult to distinguish innovative lead users from other ‘would-be experts.’ Local experts do not usually engage in do-it-yourself projects or stretch the boundaries of existing solutions. Hence they use the range of services


The role of users in heating systems transitions




Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

available, including installation and maintenance, and thus their knowledge may be of even higher use for the less advanced potential adopters. They are demanding customers and hence influence both product and service markets. They also have an important role in giving advice to other users, both via forums and personal contacts. They actively monitor their own system and share performance data online or within their own circles. At the very least, they set a good example of active usership to other users. Competent users actively seek advice and educate themselves. However, they do not go out of their way merely to achieve the ultimate technical potential of their heat pump system. Due to a little perseverance, good advice, learningby-using and some good luck, they are satisfied with the performance of their system. They are also fairly well off. Hence, they do not have to settle for the cheapest solution and can afford to get professional help if problems arise. Hapless users can include beginners, who have not yet developed the necessary routines or who have inherited the heat pump system from the previous homeowner. They also include people who have been convinced by a single persistent salesperson, or who think the technology is so mature that it requires no attention or active management by the user. Some of them do discover problems in time, and complain or ask for help on online forums, from professionals or from their friends. Some of these people never really discover that their system is far from ideal, and their problems only come up through studies or experts’ reports. This can be due to a lack of technical competence, but also due to other pressing problems or exciting life events. It is important to recognize that also the hapless users have an important role in product development. They show what still remains to be done to make heat pumps an ordinary product for everyone.

Heat pumps are part of the ongoing challenge to the present, centralized energy system, in which user involvement has been actively minimized (van Vleit et al. 2005). The present situation is the result of a long evolution, which is bound to continue. However, at the present stage, the development might take several different directions, depending on which end of the user spectrum we emphasize: a)

Increasingly active user engagement could be a reasonable scenario if we take the lead users, local experts and competent users as ideals and exemplars for others. This could occur through a gradual build-up of capacities within the population at large. It would be supported by an overall shift of energy usage practices—including home heating—to the forefront of people’s lives. Active engagement in energy production (even just home heating) can also increase awareness of overall energy use. As energy prices rise and real-time metering and billing becomes commonplace, energy is likely to become a topic of discussion, enhancing the social sharing of competencies and experience. The Internet and online forums offer some unprecedented tools for this purpose. The increased provision of formal, state-sponsored energy advice appears to support this type of “active user” development. Advice, rather than active control of the market, has until now been the main tool of market transformation in official state policy. However, formal advice providers seem to be wary of the “informal” advice networks on online forums, which could support this development of the “active user.”



Focusing on the hapless users would suggest that the role of the user should be minimized. This could be an expected development in any case as the market matures. This pathway is already emerging to some extent in Finland, as some local energy companies are offering ground-source heat pumps as a service billed on a monthly basis. Manufacturers and installers also offer leasing, which might, in the future, be extended to savings guarantees. There are also quality certificates for both products and services already in the Finnish market, and for example the Finnish Heat Pump Association is lobbying for state support to be reserved for certified providers. Ideally, recognition of the problems of ordinary, notso-techy users would lead to the development of more failsafe systems, with increased automation, failure alerts and self-monitoring systems. However, when taken to an extreme, the transformative potential of heat pumps is somewhat lost in this scenario. From a sustainability perspective, it might perhaps be ideal if the best could be taken from both scenarios. Increased quality standards and certification might support the market dominance of the best products and services. Manufacturers and installers would be encouraged to deliver enhanced automation and more transparent and easy-to-use controls and monitoring systems. When in doubt, users might find a friendly network of both ‘official’ and ‘unofficial,’ local and warm experts actively cooperating with each other, sharing information freely and actively disseminating best practices. Neighborhood-scale solutions might also serve to share risks and put the heterogeneous competencies of users to enhanced use.

8. General conclusions and implications for designers Heat pumps, of course, are different from solar heaters, which again are different from small wind-turbines or electric vehicles or smart meters. Yet similar user innovations and user involvement in peer-to-peer diffusion can be found, for example, for solar heaters (Ornezeder and Rohracher 2006), as can problems and uncertainties among ‘ordinary users’ (Morrison and Wood 1999). And Gjøen and Hård (2002) have shown how designers can learn from the ways in which electrical vehicles are actually used. Each of these products, at a particular point in its life cycle, consists of more or less standardized components and leaves more or less room for users to modify, adapt, promote or oppose, and to use and misuse them. The early stage of diffusion is often the one when users have the greatest impact on design and practices of using the product, yet our case study echoes Rohracher’s (2003) observation that such early stages can last fairly long. Moreover, even the most tightly designed and standardized systems require configuration in use and in the routines and meanings (or lack of them) that the new, more sustainable products take on in everyday life. Users will need to customize the products AND adapt their everyday practices. For each of these products, there is also likely to be some degree of heterogeneity among users in terms of their needs, skills and user contexts (see von Hippel 2005). But heterogeneity is not only a problem – it is a source of innovation. Users invent new solutions – in fact, we found more than a hundred new inventions and modification by Finnish heat pump users. Users also actively


The role of users in heating systems transitions


Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio

introduce existing solutions to new contexts. Moreover, users reveal problems and deficits in products and the surrounding services and institutions: either actively by complaining loudly, or passively, by participating in survey studies. The heterogeneity of users is important for sustainable technologies, which often struggle to grow out of the narrow niches in which they evolved. Growing out of such niches often involves a shift from tailor-made solutions to an appropriate combination of standard components and tailoring by or for the user. Heat pumps have made this leap to mass produced products, but differences in users’ homes, in outdoor temperatures, and in available competencies and finances create drivers for further adaptation and modification. Similar differences are likely to be found for widely used products for the home or for everyday activities. Tailoring of solutions to user needs and local contexts can also expand the markets of sustainable technologies. User interaction through consecutive product generations brings in more variety – at the same time as it weeds out unsuccessful solutions. Hence, the cycle of innofusion can become an expanding cycle (Raven et al. 2008), where sustainable technologies are adapted to new user contexts and gain new meanings and forms of supporting social organizations (Figure 8.8). Our findings suggest at least the following implications for designers of sustainable products for consumers: ×



Critically examine your view of the ideal user and user context! What level of engagement and competency is expected? How standardized do you expect the user context to be? What supporting services, market structures and institutions does your product assume? Attend to user modifications and adaptations! These are particularly relevant when sustainable technologies make the transition from tailor-made systems to mass-produced products. They suggest ideas for new designs as well as markets for more flexibly adaptable products or for services that help to adapt standard products to users’ needs and conditions. Embrace the heterogeneity of users! Diversity in user needs, competencies and circumstances creates stimulus for new product modifications, conditions for the emergence of support networks among users, and opportunities for



Figure 8.8 Innofusion for sustainable technologies as an expanding spiral


troubleshooting and product improvements. The application of sustainable technologies in diverse user contexts offers opportunities to tailor products to different types of markets, and hence to grow sustainable solutions out of narrow niches. Design interaction into successive product cycles! Make good use of product pilots and product launches to follow up on user modifications, unexpected uses and unexpected problems. Collect feedback, monitor user forums, and meet users face-to-face!


The role of users in heating systems transitions

193 References Akrich, M. 1992. The Description of Technological Objects. Shaping Technology – Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change, edited by W. E. Bijker and J. Law. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Bakardjieva, M. 2005. Internet Society: The internet in Everyday Life. London: Sage. Baldwin, C., C. Hienerth, and E. von Hippel 2006. How user innovations become commercial products: A theoretical investigation and case study. Research Policy 35, pp. 1291–1313.

Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio Christensen, Gram-Hanssen, Petersen, Larsen, Gudbjerg, Rasmussen & Munter 2011. Airto-air heat pumps: A wolf in sheep’s clothing? ECEEE Summer Study 2011. Duret, M., et al. 2000. Final Report of the PROTEE Project. (Transport Programme of the 4th FP). Paris. EHPA 2008. European Heat Pump Action Plan. European Heat Pump Association. EHPA_Action_Plan.pdf.

Bazerman, C. 1998. Languages of Edison’s Light. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

EHPA 2010. Heat Pump Technology and Application Overview. European Heat Pump Association. technology_overview.pdf.

Berger, T., M. Hartmann, Y. Punie, and K. Ward, J, eds. 2006. Domestication of Media and Technology. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.

EHPA 2011. Outlook 2011—Preview—European Heat Pump Statistics. European Heat Pump Association. heat-pump-statistics/2010/.

Bjerknes, G., P. Ehn, and M. Kyng, eds. 1987. Computers and Democracy – A Scandinavian Challenge. Aldershot, England: Avebury.

Elvari 2010. Jälkiasennetun ilmalämpöpumpun vaikutus energiankäyttöön (Impact on energy use of retrofitted air-to air heat pumps). Helsinki: Motiva. Online

Bijker, W. 1987. Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. Botero, A., Kommonen, K.-H. and Marttila, S. 2010. Expanding Design Space: Design-InUse Activities and Strategies. Proceedings of the DRS 2010 Conference. Design and Complexity. Montreal, Canada: DRS. Available at: DRS2010/PDF/018.pdf. Caird, S., Roy, R. & Potter, S. 2012. Domestic heat pumps in the UK: user behaviour, satisfaction and performance. Energy Efficiency, Articles in print. DOI 10.1007/s12053-012-9146-x. Callon, M. 1991. Techno-economic networks and irreversibility. A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology, and Domination, edited by J. Law. London: Routledge.

Fischer, C. S. 1992. America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Fleck, J. 1993a. Configurations : crystallizing contingency. International Journal of Human Factors in Manufacturing 3, 1, pp. 15–36. Fleck, J. 1993b. Innofusion: Feedback in the innovation process. Systems Science: Addressing Global Issues, edited by F. A. Stowell et al. London: Plenum. Flichy, P. 2006. The Internet Imaginaire. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Freeman, C., and F. Louçã 2001. As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Garud, R. (Forthcoming) Metatheoretical perspectives on sustainability journeys: evolutionary, relational and durational. Forthcoming in Research Policy.

and Tampere University of Technology. Online: sahkon-ja-kaukolammon-rooli-energiatehokkuudessa-ja-energiansaastossa.

Geels, F. W., and J. Schot 2007. Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways. Research policy 36, pp. 399–417.

Höyssä, M., and S. Hyysalo 2009. The fog of innovation: Innovativeness and deviance in developing new clinical testing equipment. Research Policy 38, 6, pp. 984–993.

Gjøen, H. and Hård, M. 2002. Cultural politics in action: developing user scripts in relation to the electric vehicle. Science, Technology, & Human Values 27, 2, pp. 262–281.

Hughes, T. P. 1979. The Electrification of America: The System Builders. Technology and Culture 20, 1, pp. 124–161.

Goldschmidt, V. W. 1984. Heat Pumps: Basics, Types, and Performance Characteristics. Annual Review of Energy 9, pp. 44–472.

Hughes, T.P. 1988. Networks of Power. Electrification of the Western World 1880–1930. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Hamilton, J & Killip, G. 2009. Demonstration, inspiration… replication? Assessing the impact and limits of social learning from EcoHomes Open Days in the UK. Proceedings of the ECEEE 2009 Summer Study: Act! Innovate! Deliver! Reducing Energy Demand Sustainably. Stockholm: European Council for and Energy Efficient Economy, pp. 825–830.

Hyysalo, S., Juntunen, J.K. & Freeman, S. 2013a. User innovation in sustainable home energy technologies. Energy Policy 55 (2013), pp. 490–500.

Green, K. 1993. Shaping demand for biotechnology. Technological Change and Company Strategies, edited by R. Coombs, P. Saviotti and V. Walsh. London: Academic Press. Von Hippel, E. 1988. The Sources of innovation. New York: Oxford University Press. Von Hippel, E. 2005. Democratizing Innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Heiskanen, E., Lovio, R. & Jalas, M., 2011. Path creation for sustainable consumption: promoting alternative heating systems in Finland. Journal of Cleaner Production 19, pp. 1892–1900. Honkapuro, S., Jauhiainen, N., Partanen, J. & Valkealahti, S. 2009. Sähkön ja kaukolämmön rooli energiatehokkuudessa ja energian säästössä (Role of electricity and district heat in energy efficiency and energy saving). Lappeenranta University of Technology


Hyysalo, S., Juntunen, J.K. & Freeman, S. 2013b. Internet Forums and the Rise of the Inventive Energy User. Science & Technology Studies, 26, 1, pp. 25–51. Juntunen, J.K. 2011. Domestication of smallscale renewable energy systems – A case study of air heat pumps, residential micro wind stations and solar thermal collectors in Finland. Paper presented at EcoDesign2011: 7th International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing, Nov 30-Dec 2, 2011, Kyoto, Japan. Kline, R., and Pinch T. 1996. Users as agents of technological change: The social construction of the automobile in the rural united states. Technology and Culture 37, pp. 763–795. Leivo, V. & Lindberg, R., 2008. Lämmitysenergian säästö ja energiansäästöpotentiaalit (Heat energy savings and energy saving potential). Tekniikan maailma. Rakennusmaailma 08/2008. Lettl, C., C. Herstatt and H. Gemunden 2006. Users’ contributions to radical innovation: The role of users in heating systems transitions

195 evidence from four cases in the field of medical equipment technology. R&D Management 36, 3, pp. 251–272. Lie, M., and K. Sorensen, eds. 1996. Making Technology Our Own? Domesticating Technology into Everyday Life. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press. Lundqvist, P. 2008. The Heat Pump in the Refurbishment of Existing Buildings, Perspectives from Sweden. Stockholm, KTH, Energy Technology. Marchand, R. 1998. Customer research as public relations: General motors. In S. Strasser, C. McGoverns & M. Judt (Eds.), Getting and spending: European and American Consumer Societies in the Twentieth century, pp. 85–110. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Morrison, G.L. & Wood, B.D. 1999. Packaged Solar Water Heating Technology, Twenty Years of Progress. Paper for ISES 1999 Solar World Congress, Jerusalem, Israel, July 4–9, 1999. Online at: papers%5CISES99%20Plenary.PDF. Ornetzeder, M. & H. Rohracher 2006. User-led Innovations and Participation Processes: Lessons from Sustainable Energy Technologies. Energy Policy 34:2, pp. 138–150. NREAP (2011) Finland’s national action plan for promoting energy from renewable sources pursuant to Directive 2009/28/EC. Helsinki, Ministry of Economy and Employment, Energy Department. Noble, D. F. 1984. Forces of Production: A Social History of Machine Tool Automation. New York: A. A. Knopf. Oudshoorn. N and Pinch, T. 2003 (eds.) How Users Matter. The Co-Construction of Users and Technologies. Cambridge: MIT Press. Perez, C. 2003. Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Heiskanen, Hyysalo, Jalas, Juntunen & Lovio Poti, B. M., R. P. Raven, A. Alcantud Torrent, B. Brothmann, C. Feenstra, U. Fritsche, J. Fucsko, E. Heiskanen, M. Hodson, M. Maack, A. Oniszk-Poplawska and B. Schaefer 2006. Manual on the Socrobust Tool and Recent Experiences with Using Socrobust. Deliverable 1 of the Create Acceptance project. Petten, the Netherlands: ECN. Online: library/report/2007/e07049.pdf. Pollock, N., and R. Williams 2008. Software and Organisations: The Biography of the Packaged Enterprise-wide System, or, how SAP Conquered the World. London: Routledge. Pulkkinen, H. 2009. Ilmalämpöpumppujen virheasennukset ja niistä johtuvat kustannukset. (Installment failures of air-to-air heat pumps and the ensuing costs). Bachelor’s thesis, KemiTornio University of Applied Sciences. Raven, R. P. J. M., Heiskanen, E., Lovio, R., Hodson, M. and Brohmann, B. 2008. The contribution of local experiments and negotiation processes to field-level learning in emerging (niche) technologies: meta-analysis of 27 new energy projects in Europe. Bulletin of Science Technology Society 2008; 28, 6, pp. 464–477. Rohracher, H. 2003. The Role of Users in the Social Shaping of Environmental Technologies. Innovation (16) 2, pp. 177–196. Sanders, E. B.-N. and Stappers, P. J. 2008. Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 4, 1, pp. 5–18. Silverstone, R., E. Hirsch and D. Morley 1992. Information and Communication Technologies and the Moral Economy of the Household. R. Silverstone & E. Hirsch (eds.) Consuming Technologies: Media and Information in Domestic Spaces, pp. 115–31. London: Routledge. Sorensen, K., and R. Williams, eds. 2002. Shaping Technology, Guiding Policy: Concepts, Spaces and Tools. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Stewart, J., and R. Williams 2005. The Wrong Trousers? Beyond the Design Fallacy: Social Learning and the User. User involvement in innovation processes. Strategies and limitations from a socio-technical perspective, edited by H. Rohracher. Munich: Profil-Verlag. Stewart, J. 2007. Local experts in the domestication of information and communication technologies. Information, Communication & Society 10, pp. 547–569. Sumner, J.A., 1974. Waste not, want not. Electronics and Power 20, 15, p. 644. Van de Ven, A. H., Polley, D. E., R. Garud and S. Venkataraman 1999. The Innovation Journey. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Van Vliet, B., Chappells H. and Shove, E. 2005. Infrastructures of Consumption. Environmental Innovation in the Utility Industries. London: Earthscan. Verbeeck, P.-P. and Slob, A. 2006. User Behavior and Technology Development: Shaping Sustainable Relations. Dordrecht: Springer. Voss, A., Hartswood, M., Procter, R., Rouncefield, M., Slack, R. S. and Büscher, M., eds. 2009. Configuring User-Designer Relations – Interdisciplinary Perspectives. London: Springer. Zenebe Defega, M. 2010. Energy Efficiency Analysis of Residential Electric End-Uses: Based on Statistical Survey and Hourly Metered Data. Thesis submitted for examination for the degree of Master of Science in Technology. Espoo: Aalto University School of Science and Technology, Faculty of Electronics, Communications and Automation, Department of Electrical Engineering.


The role of users in heating systems transitions



The rocky road to radical transition — A micro  perspective on systemic innovation



The rocky road to radical transition — A micro perspective  on systemic innovation Poul Rind Christensen, University of Southern Denmark & Mette Mikkelsen, Design School Kolding

Society is made up of ‘grand’ systems – energy, communication, healthcare, education, transport, etc. These systems have at least two elements in common: they are institutionally embedded and they are governed by a dominant design. A third common feature is that they are often mutually dependent. This is for example the case with the energy supply system and the transport system, which are the topic of this contribution. Based on the experiences from one of the many programs around the globe aiming to transform the conventional fuel-based transport system, the intention of this contribution is to provide a micro perspective on systemic innovation. In doing so, we touch on some of the questions seldom dealt with in innovation research, namely the interplay between the macro perspectives on structural configuration and perspectives from the micro arena of actors’ intentions and actions leading to breakthrough innovations – or the opposite: innovative stalemate situations. The “etrans” project, which is the design program in focus in this contribution, is only a minor one among numerous programs promoting different types of solutions to powering a new generation of vehicles for sustainable transport. While many of these programs focus on the car, etrans concentrates on the development of accessories and infrastructural facilities and services needed to make e-car transport a feasible and attractive alternative to the gasoline and diesel-based car. Etrans was launched by Design School Kolding as a partnership-based design project in 2009, with the aim to help the electric car become an environmental and commercial success in Denmark. The aspiration was to develop “scenarios of how the electric car could be part of people’s everyday life” (etrans,

2009, p. 5) and, ultimately, demonstrate “how sustainable transport can be a commercial success” (etrans, Op cit. p. 5). While most studies on the dynamics of systemic innovation are based on aggregated analyses at the macro level, there seems to be very few disaggregated studies that keep the micro context of the systemic innovation in focus. In the following retrospective perspective, the three-year-long “etrans” design project was used as a case-based foundation exploring the dynamics of systemic innovation in a specific context with the aim of learning from the proximity of reality rather than creating a general validity. (Flyvbjerg, 2011). The article is organized as follows: In the next section our understanding of the dynamics of systemic innovation is introduced, followed by two major researchbased macro perspectives. In the subsequent section the etrans project is outlined, starting with a few characteristics from the macro perspective and followed by a more detailed study of the insights gained through the phases of the design project. Finally the learning and insights gained on the dynamics of systemic innovation from at micro perspective are discussed and related to the interplay between macro and micro intentions and actions leading to breakthrough innovations – or the opposite: innovative stalemate situations. Dynamics of systemic innovation The systemic properties of innovation are widely acknowledged, and it is realized that innovative actors increasingly depend on other actors as well as the properties of the system in which the innovation is embedded. This is not least the case in ‘grand’ innovations, characterized by their widespread societal character and fundamental impact on our way of living and for example the mode of production in society. Systemic innovations are here defined as innovations that depend on and require substantial adjustments in other parts of the system in which they are embedded (Maula, Keil and Salmenkaita, 2005). There are several reasons to highlight the systemic character of most innovations. In order to outline the basic contours of the micro perspective on systemic innovations, a few key issues are emphasized below, stressing the network perspective of the actors, resources and activities (Haakansson and Snehota, 1995). × One issue is related to the technological dimension, especially the pace and complexity of technical progress and the consequent environmental turbulence. In contrast to a stand-alone innovation, the attractive or obsolete attributes of a systemic innovation does not solely depend on user perceptions, but also on the fit to the wider system in which it is embedded, i.e. the network of competing and not least collaborative actors. × The network with collaborative potentials is basically, but not exclusively, founded on the complementarities of technologies and competencies and thus also of mutually supportive innovations based on the deepened division between labor and the refined knowledge specialization among firms and other institutions, including public bodies. × This influences the organizational dimension, especially the way actors in the system compete and collaborate in the ongoing formation of the system in which they act and co-act. Systemic innovations are hardly ever controlled and orchestrated by one organization alone, but evolve through more or less


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition

203 ×


Christensen & Mikkelsen

coordinated intentions and actions across a number of organizations and actors in the system. It is thus far from assumed that the system is consciously designed or that relationship building and interaction is smooth. Since systemic innovations depend on a network of actors, innovation management changes from a sole question of managing activities and resources under control inside the borders of the organization to the management of activities outside ownership control. The ability to relate to complementary resources and skills embedded with adjunct actors and the ability to influence and co-create solution with these actors gain key importance. In the era of global transition this complicates relationship building due to distance, language and cultural diversity. The role of designing also changes in the sense that space for autonomous design shrinks at the expense of the quest for collaborative practices paving the way for collateral solutions embedded with complementary actors. The image of design as taking place in an isolated environment of an organization is thus outdated. A new conceptual image emphasizing the role of design as an innovation-linking activity seems feasible to explore. One might talk of a new role of design as key account designing, i.e. designing as a platform for the meeting of technical, material knowledge on one hand, and prerequisites of the upstream (up until the final use) users on the other hand.

The innovative performance of the individual firm is thus seen as dependent on the structure of the system – how settled and regulated the system is and how the set of institutions and key actors interact (Rosenberg and Nelson, 1994). These reasons sum up the final image – that the institutional context and embedded grand systems are essential for spaces of opportunities to open up for emerging innovative initiatives and actors (Lundvall, 2005; Christensen, Suaréz and Utterback, 1998). Although individuals may come up with revolutionary inventions, the implementation in society in turn demand collaborative ventures crossing organizational boundaries paving the way for disruptive innovations, mending side effects not anticipated along the way, and dealing with a rejuvenation of standards, regulations and guidelines framing use and actions leading from invention over innovation to socially embedded use in society. Thus, innovations, which are systemic in nature, require substantial adjustments with other parts and stakeholders in the technological system in which they are embedded (Teece and Pisano, 1996), and what seems equally important, these innovations are not only agents of creative destruction of obsolete actors and artifacts, as Schumpeter has coined it. They are also creative agents for the recreation and formation of networks and collaboration among actors, combining specialized knowledge and capabilities residing with the diversity of actors in the system in new ways. Tushman and Anderson (1986) note that the systemic character of innovations surfaces especially in times of technological discontinuities since they increase environmental uncertainty. They also create a divide between competence-destroying and competence-enhancing discontinuities. The latter, they state, are primarily initiated by incumbent firms and may be seen as efforts to decrease environmental turbulence. The former is very often, but not exclusively, initiated by new firms and associated with the opportunities created by increased environmental turbulence and ambiguity.

As such, systemic innovations require the building of an institutional and socio-cultural context for the exchange of information, mutual learning and bonding of resources as well as coordination of activities among the key actors. In turn this also leads to coordination with other less tightly coupled stakeholders in part of the business system and the wider society. Systemic innovations thus occur through interactive experiments—including relationship building and competition—among many organizations, stimulated by the hope for economic prosperity. Over the years, several research communities have addressed the systemic character of innovation. A number of theoretical trajectories have been outlined (Carlsson, Jacobsson, Holmen and Rickne (2002) provide an overview), stressing key aspects in understanding the dynamics of systemic innovation. A common characteristic is that all theories, with a few exceptions ( e.g. strategy research), are to be found in a macro theoretical context. Macro perspectives Two influential perspectives are briefly outlined in the following: the National System of Innovation perspective (Freeman, 1995 and Lundvall, 1992) and the Dominant Design perspective (Utterback and Abernathy (1975)). While the former stresses institutional factors and the fundamental role of user-producer interaction, the latter has a conceptual focus on technology and perspectives stressing the importance of standards at different levels of the system. A short outline of the two perspectives is provided in the following section. Theory on National Systems of Innovation and interactive learning The aim of research into National Systems of Innovation (NSI) has been to understand the dynamics of the innovation system in a broad sense (Freeman, 1995; Lundvall, 2005) stressing that, although innovation systems have global overtones, national differences can be observed and do influence the focus of the innovation, the formation and the capacity in different nations. The NSI perspective defines innovation as:

“A continuous cumulative process involving not only radical and incremental innovation but also the diffusion, absorption and use of innovation.” (Lundvall, 2005, page 14) Second there are other major sources of innovation than science. Innovation is seen as reflecting interactive learning taking place in connection with on-going activities in production and sales. Therefore the analysis takes its starting point in the process of production and the process of product development assuming, for instance, that the interaction with users is fundamental for product innovation. To a certain degree, these differences in focus reflect the national origin (Lundvall, 2005, page 12).

In short, the theory on NSI builds on the following key assumptions (Lundvall, 2007): ×

Knowledge is accumulative and sticky, i.e. it tends to stick to actors, firms, organizations, communities of practice and areas with strong activities and traditions inside the knowledge field.


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition

205 ×


Christensen & Mikkelsen

Learning is seen as the key to the dynamics of systemic innovation. Major emphasis is placed on organizational learning and especially interactive learning, i.e. learning processes taking place in interaction between organizations in the system under scrutiny. Focus is on the interorganizational learning processes taking place among the producing firms and the using firms or organizations.

Interaction and network formation among the organizational units in the system is thus seen as a key to knowledge sharing and the development of what we, in this connection, might label ‘cross skills,’ i.e. skills that are embedded in the relationship-based blend of knowledge and capabilities from a number of organizations. The value of cross skills tends to vanish in case these organizations separate. Two different perspectives are drawn from research in the user-producer interaction perspective (Lorenz, 2005). One is the science-based perspective named STI (Science and Technology Innovation) emphasizing the role of formal R&D and the production of codified knowledge. In this perspective learning processes are seen to unfold in R&D units of large corporations in interaction with research and knowledge institutions. Another perspective is the so called DUI (Do, Use and Interact) perspective, emphasizing learning by doing and by using, and the role of tacit knowledge embedded with employees in all organizations and exchanged in interactive learning processes inside and among organizations. The NSI perspective is on the supply side drivers for systemic innovation, i.e. the industrial dynamics stemming from, among other things, the change of routines and knowledge building generated in the interaction of firms as well as with knowledge institutions sustained by the educational system. Strong experimental elements are seen to be embedded in these interactive learning processes. Theory on dominant design and the layers of knowledge Utterback and Abernathy (1975) coined the term “dominant design” reflecting the point in time where periods of technological discontinuity come to an end and evolve into periods where certain technologies and standards emerge as the generally accepted technological core and interface, product type, or process dominating industry and society. Dominant designs may thus be seen as the outcome of systemic innovations. The core of a dominant design thus builds on standards and routines commonly agreed on and adhered to. Under the umbrella of a dominant design the upscaling of production is made possible because of the relative, conceptual stability. Incremental improvements and changes dominate, guided by the standards and conventions embedded with the dominant design. In spite of the technical origin, dominant design may also be seen as a dominant innovation regime, wiping away basic ambiguities and paving the way for affordable innovation prospects. Vested positions, interests and relationships favor innovations that reinforce them, and have a tendency to constrain innovative actors threatening their positions. Innovations tend to fine-tune and cement the interactions around the core competencies sustaining the dominant design, thus favoring path dependency (Haakansson and Waluszewski, 2002). Dominant design is thus also seen to facilitate specific kinds of management and governance. Henry Ford founded his reputation and fortune, not on inventing the fuel-based car, but on his application of Taylor’s ‘scientific management

principles to the construction of the first assembly line in the world and the foundation of the ‘Fordist’ management era of mass production and incremental refinements. It was actually the fine-tuned mass production of fuel powered cars that brought an end to the first era of electric cars that had a high point around the turn of the 19th century. At that time all taxis in New York City e.g. were powered by electricity. The battle of dominant design may thus also be seen as a result of the competition between diverse business models rather than a competition among products or technologies (Andersen and Strandskov, 2008). Dominant design is double edged. On one hand, enterprises may grow under the umbrella of the dominant design they join and form. On the other hand, the actors residing in the domain of the dominant design have difficulties breaking out of the trajectory of the system and form radical alternatives. They build routines, invest resources, and develop collaborative bonds that slowly socialize them to ‘business as usual’ and embed them with strong ties to established collaborative partners. Thus dominant design is seen as inclusive for those actors adhering to the norms and standards, sharing values and perspectives, and even basic unquestioned assumptions, and as exclusive for those trying to ‘reinvent’ or alter the system and even parts of it. However, following Henderson and Clark (1990) the dynamics of technical systems (dominant design systems) take place on two levels – the layer of architectural knowledge and the layer of component knowledge. The layer of architectural knowledge Architectural knowledge is defined as the knowledge of how the components are linked together in a coherent whole constituting the entire system. It is also knowledge about the range of variations feasible inside the framework of dominant design. In the view of Henderson and Clarke the architectural level is not only a question of how components are linked together in order to form the technical core, but also a question of how organizations exchange information and resources and how collaborative routines evolve in the nexus of competition and cooperation. Changes in the technological system may thus take place with only little change at the level of components, but with fundamental alterations of the linkages between components making up the system. Extant organizations are often seen as the architects of technological systems. Maula, Keil and Salmenkaita (2005) view the architectural layer as a means of directing participants in the value-creating network by their shaping of the industry, i.e. the industrial network, and providing strategic foresight that drive resource allocation. However, while incremental changes may be relatively easy to accomplish, radical changes are rather difficult to execute by existing organizations, because they imply radical changes of the network of relations. In this light, the probability that radical innovations will be initiated by new entrepreneurial entrants is high. The layer of component knowledge Component knowledge includes the technical knowledge needed in the component and the core design concepts embedded in each component. The notion of a product or a service as a system consisting of a set of components underscores the layers of innovation involved and thus also the distinctly different types of knowledge and capabilities needed.


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition


Christensen & Mikkelsen

Innovations at the component level may well influence the architectural knowledge layer for the simple reason that new types of components have to be adapted to the system. Innovations on the component level may thus disrupt relationships built and the ‘cross skills’ formed by relationship-based knowledge and collaborative routines. They may also disrupt established competitive positions. Radical innovations establish new dominant designs through the innovation of not only new components, but basically through a new combination of core designs linking component level designs together in new ways. The process may well be triggered by small, but fundamental, changes on the component level opening the window for new architectural innovations. This is what Schumpeter would call combining production factors in new ways. However, the road to radical systemic innovations is rocky and filled with temporary road repair and roundabouts. The case of the “etrans” project For a number of well-known reasons, the energy system in Denmark as well as in other countries is under pressure to shift the sources of their energy supplies away from coal, gas and oil to more sustainable sources of energy supply. In Denmark more than 33 percent of the electric power supply was produced by wind in 2013. The political ambition is to expand these supplies. At the same time, an apparent need to transform the conventional fuelbased transport system into a less polluting and sustainable system is recognized. In Denmark electricity based on wind power is seen as a feasible way to go. However, this transformation is a much more market-driven process framed by the current taxation system on vehicles. Unfortunately, power supplies from wind mills are not easily stored. Consumption has to take place when the wind blows, unless storage can be facilitated. This is becoming a troublesome obstacle for the expansion of wind-based power supplies. With this in mind two master plans for technological solutions are in progress. One is the development of a Smart Grid enabling the sharing of energy supplies across national borders. Another is the idea to use batteries from electric vehicles as a storage facility during night hours. Stakeholders and participatory engagement DONG Energy is a major Danish energy corporation engaged in the exploration and production of oil and gas from the North Sea and in the production and distribution of electricity and natural gas. DONG is also a developer of offshore wind mill parks in Denmark and internationally. The Danish state is the majority shareholder in DONG Energy. It allows the government to oblige DONG Energy to implement policy programs on sustainable energy supply and consumption. DONG is thus also engaged in innovative projects in support of sustainable energy supplies: rejuvenation of power stations, development of Smart Grid for electricity distribution in Northern Europe, partnership with ‘Better Place’1 with the aim to develop battery shift sites for electric cars, and, not least, the development of power transmission systems for offshore mills. This position also formed the basis for DONG Energy to take the role as an initiating partner with Design School Kolding in the generation of the etrans project supported by the EU.


Better Place is a venturebased company based In Palo Alto, California. It went bankrupt in November, 2013. For more details, see http:// wiki/Better_Place.

Among the founding partners was the municipality of Fredericia that is seeking a green city brand and sustainability in public service to private citizens, e.g. sustainable transport in local healthcare. TRIN (Innovation forum for six municipalities in the Region of Southern Denmark) took an interest in the project for two reasons – the opportunity to be a lead facilitating area for e-transportation and its interest in sustaining clean public/private transport solutions in the area (bus, taxi, shuttle service etc.). A number of private enterprises joined as partners based on different interests (learning opportunities, business development opportunities, collaborative opportunities, branding opportunities). Worth mentioning is ‘Å,’ an online nationwide distributer of organic fruits and vegetables to households, and ‘Hjem-is,’ a mobile ice-cream outlet. Their interests were in e-transport and distribution learning and the development of concepts for their fleets of vans. Another partner was ‘Falck,’ engaged in roadside service, ambulance and healthcare transport. Its interests center on roadside service and auto services in the e-trans society. Peugeot—one of the world leaders in e-car manufacturing—was represented by a major local car dealer interested in e-car sales service and opportunities for new business development, and by the head office in Denmark that ran a central communication project about sustainable transport and eco-friendly cars. Statoil—the giant Norwegian oil corporation—was represented by its Danish distribution unit with the aim to gain knowledge about future power supply systems and sites. ‘Clean Teck Motors’ transforms fuel-based vehicles to e-based vehicles and takes an interest in contributing to the development of components and services to e-cars. The car rental firm ‘Sixt’ in Denmark also joined in search of service support for e-car rental. During the three phases of the design project a number of lead users, entrepreneurs and public institutions were engaged as temporary partners in specific projects or as participants in workshops, camps, field studies and other activities. Among those it is worth mentioning ‘ChooseEV’—an electric vehicle testing company—joining in the second year of the project, and EC Tunes – an engineering enterprise specializing in sound technology. The design process As illustrated in Figure 9.1, the etrans project consisted of three design loops leading from the generation of user insights, through participatory prototyping and artistic development work with interested stakeholders, and ending with the 3rd design loop in which entrepreneurs, representatives from private businesses, public sector institutions (e.g. city planners and local health units) and NGOs participated in opportunity design and business development. Overall, the first iteration aimed at gaining initial user insights; the second loop aimed at experimentation, prototyping and gaining insights into feasible concepts to work with in the final loop of the ‘business model’ development with private and public stakeholders. However, the clear structuring does not provide a true image of actual events: it is not possible to stay on hold and postpone activities when entrepreneurs impatiently want action now. So in reality the time line of the projects was more mixed than expected, though main activities evolved as planned. The whole project was launched as a user-driven innovation project. Seen across the three phases of iterations it seems more appropriate to characterize the


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition


Christensen & Mikkelsen

Knowledge Level Design Professional Development

Design Professional Development

Design Professional Development

User Insight + Analysis

March 2009

User Insight + Analysis

User Insight + Analysis

Solutions + Analysis

Prototyping + Analysis

Idea Development + Analysis

Time 2010


project as a stakeholder engaging project designed and driven by the core design team. Along the way—as well as along the intentions—a gradual shift in participatory engagement emerged. While pioneer users were active in the first iteration, designers and potential institutional and professional users were more active in the second round of iterations. In the third and final iteration, actors from business, public sector institutions and NGOs were engaged. Each of the three phases was supported by a design camp taking place in the fall of each year. 1st design loop – gaining user insights Activities in this first phase were devoted to gaining insights into users and potential users of e-cars as well as networking with lead users. From the very beginning of the project an anthropological field study was conducted among lead users of e-cars as well as among owners of conventional fuel-based cars. Driving habits and household routines with the car were explored, as well as core values and practices concerning sustainable transport habits. Based on these studies a user typology was developed in collaboration with the anthropologists and consumer researchers affiliated with the project. The anthropological study was followed by a survey of 1022 respondents (etrans Report 2, 2010). This study revealed that the potential lead users, indicated in the anthropological study (the technology enthusiast and the environmentalist), only comprised a small fraction of users. Less than one percent responded that they had an urgent desire for an e-car. With that few users the introduction of e-cars could not be carried across the critical threshold to sustainable business.

December 2011 Figure 9.1 From ideation to market creation – the time line for etrans Reference Report 3: Charging of electrical cars. A global status with recommendations and design proposals. Etrans 2011, p. 17

The large segments of potential users (the rationalists and the pragmatic users), comprising more than 90 percent of the respondents, were identified as late users. The survey confirmed that only a few of them were enthusiastic about the e-car. By far the most people viewed their car as a practical device, which had to transport them efficiently from A to B. So, although sustainable transport is high up on the political agenda in society, the communities of car users are more reserved if not reluctant. The study results were rather disturbing since the anthropological study urged some of the entrepreneurial stakeholders to believe that it was feasible to target the great majority right away. However, the conflicting results made it clear that the introduction of e-cars is tapping into a strong cultural and socioeconomic context in which an emerging technology challenges a well-functioning transport system embedded in strong values of free and smooth mobility, comfort and status. 2nd design loop – experimenting with stakeholders Based on insights gained in the first loop, the second loop concentrated on different types of experiments and workshops with users and stakeholders in order to develop and test various prototypes with the common aim to design new interfaces between the e-car and the surrounding environment. For example a number of different power charging stands for use in different types of environments were sketched and prototyped. The rechargeable batteries are critical to the performance of e-cars for several reasons, including driving range supported, charging times, safety in use, and sensitivity to temperatures. However, a major issue with deep implications for the architectural level is the ownership models of the batteries. The electric power suppliers want to keep the ownership of the batteries for the simple reason that the batteries may function as storage units for wind and solar power produced during the night. Therefore they advocate and promote a swap loading model combined with a leasing solution, where the power station takes ownership of batteries and uses empty batteries as a storage unit for green energy. However, car manufacturers prefer to sell the battery as part of the car package, since the battery performance and the charging design are seen as key competitive parameters in the new e-car market. The result is that major stakeholders compete rather than collaborate on the future standards for the power charging system, including the standard of the plugs to be used. The two charging systems are illustrated in the Figure 9.2 and 9.3. From the micro perspective of etrans this institutional ambiguity was seen as a window of opportunity. It made it clear that the charging stations would have a temporary character and needed to be flexible, i.e. easy to switch to different standards and prepared to new emerging standards. Applying the dominant design perspective to the micro experiences, the experience from etrans is that the technical constraints and opportunities by themselves play a key role. But of even greater importance is the fact that the technological supply side-driven logic embedded in the communities of technology


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition

Figure 9.2 Flexible ‘Shat’ loading station Reference Report 3 – Charging of electrical cars (2011), p. 45


Christensen & Mikkelsen

suppliers and knowledge institutions is overwhelming. It is driven by technological visions, outspokenly disregarding the experiences of professional as well as private users. It is a clear vision that everyday problems of power charging, limits to battery capacity, insecurities related to changes in driving habits etc. etc. can be anticipated in technological solutions in progress. In contrast, the experience from the micro level perspective of etrans is that user-producer interaction in the upstream end of the value-creating network is extremely important since those business organizations and public service bodies delivering services, infrastructure and energy, gain critical practical experience through the dialogue and experimentation with nascent users on component as well as business and service development. In etrans these experimental sessions and workshops have resulted in a number of design solutions on the component as well as the architectural level, which has led to new types of services and business models as well as forums laying the ground for learning communities. Workshops in the second iteration also focused on the city landscape and the development of charging sites and charging options in the city, based on the challenge that charging of e-cars puts different demands on the habits of users. The experience was that investments in charging facilities is expensive and filled with ambiguous considerations to be made (time of charging, choice of power supplier, visibility and proximity of sites, standards for charging devices, payment, security in public spaces, info on charging status on mobile phones etc.). One of the advantages associated with the e-car is the silent engine. It is, however, also a challenge to traffic safety – as well as for the masculine appeal of the car. Therefore, aesthetic and acoustic technologies were developed together with ECTunes and turned into a user-oriented test model ‘develop your own sound for your car.’ New and attractive ways to own and use cars were developed in order to attract users ready to think in terms of new transport habits and values. A number of alternative business concepts were co-designed in tight collaboration with a diversity of stakeholders. Figure 9.3 Swap station in Denmark

Together with Falck, an experienced mobile roadside assistance provider, new membership packages were developed based on the need to provide new types of road services to e-car users. Since pioneer users of e-cars tend to be lonely riders in a socio-cultural context where common knowledge and sense making is embedded in a community of practice for conventional fuel-based cars, new extensions and membership packages and social community membership schemes were developed. See Figure 9.4 below. The experimental workshops in the 2nd loop concentrated more on the professional e-car users. They allegedly constituted a more fertile ground for collaborative experiments. Lead user municipalities were engaged and provided deeper insights into the complexity of the problem-solution field when it comes to operating a fleet of e-cars. Many interdependencies are at stake when many people in their daily work life depend on a stable transport system. In cooperation with a couple of car rental companies user experiences were explored and reported. Concepts for different business models for car rental, including new services, were developed. One of the stakeholders—Aunsbjerg/Peugeot— launched a new e-car rental enterprise (Zap Cars) based on a new service concept. A number of reports documented the prototypes developed and the experiences gained in the second design loop. 3rd design loop – design feeding action During the 2nd loop several critical focus areas were explored and tested, and a number of artifacts, services and business concepts were developed. In the 3rd loop, the business community, entrepreneurs, stakeholders and agents in the public sector were engaged in the common purpose of establishing a ‘food chain’ from the design consultations, workshops and lab sessions to concrete business opportunities. In retrospect, an overarching label for the efforts in the 3rd design loop is the participatory focus on opportunity design. Two projects stand out as markers for the 3rd design loop.

SERVICE DESIGN Convenience package Co-designed with end users: Car sharing Comfort Zone Intelligent power supply Applications


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition

Figure 9.4 Reference Etrans information material, 2011


Christensen & Mikkelsen

One is the co-creation project undertaken in Fredericia Municipality with their mobile health and home service to elderly and disabled residents in the municipality of Fredericia. The staff was equipped with e-cars and was thus thrown into unanticipated situations including charging, traffic and handling of the car facilities (for example heating, speed, and availability). Their experiences on a daily basis were validated by a variety of employees from other lead user municipalities with similar experiences. The purpose was twofold: First, to achieve common knowledge about the systemic barriers and difficulties in relation to implementing e-cars in a professional environment of buying, maintaining and using an e-car fleet, and to manage it. Second, to get the public lead users’ help in transforming their insights and knowledge into a handbook and a set of recommendations for other fleet managers in order to help them get started with e-cars in their fleet. In another project, based on a study of the infrastructure in the six municipalities in the Triangle Region, a cross-sector project was conducted in collaboration with the regional innovation unit (TRIN), the six municipalities, and the local power supplier (TREFOR) operating in all six municipalities. An investigation of urban constraints and analyses of key traffic junctions was conducted. It was combined with the knowledge about the power supply grids in the area. Practical experiments with types, costs and installation of an urban cable infrastructure were then conducted. Power cables were installed in selected urban key areas and a flexible power charging stand was designed. It is future-proof in the sense that components can easily be exchanged or optimized in accordance with new experiences gained by the operating partners and users. It is easy to dismantle, the power plug may be changed, and the cable size and the electronic payment system may be altered. Insights into a number of infrastructural constraints were identified and shared among the participating stakeholders. Among those worth mentioning are: the match with aesthetic considerations embedded in the city plans, the costs of cable work, payment systems for the stands, and the financing of the infrastructure. In addition, etrans grasped the chance to partner up with “ChooseEV” for the purpose of contributing to—and gaining insights into—driving habits and experiences of e-car users through a nationwide test of the use of e-cars based on 170 vehicles distributed among 21 municipalities. All private test drivers had an e-car at their disposal for three months and used it as their primary vehicle. A number of institutions and enterprises joined the test panel as well. One of the lessons learned from this study is that it is helpful for the implementation of an immature technology like e-cars to form community help groups for solving daily problems and reduce the feeling of insecurity as long as routines and tacit knowledge are still not embedded in the local community. Project experiences and perspectives – a summary During the first year of the etrans project the political will to utilize the fluctuating wind energy in the batteries of e-cars turned out to be meaningful for a growing and determined part of the population wanting to invest in e-cars. But the manufacturers of e-cars could not fulfill demands, which resulted in extreme waiting time for deliveries. At the same time, a heated public debate on e-cars and e-driving erupted. The first versions of e-cars that went on the market were criticized for their bad performance, the excessive price, and even their unsafe handling. The few cars

brought to market were riddled with ‘teething troubles’ to a degree that many first movers gave up and turned their back on the system. A number of studies and projects about the unripe technology also revealed that e-cars do have severe limitations concerning the range of the car and its comfort level (for example the heating system). The public criticism influenced stakeholders in etrans. It raised the level of ambiguity and the awareness of how to contribute to the implementation of an unripe technology confronting the stakeholders with dilemmas like ‘the hen and the egg’ again and again: should investments in a public infrastructure of power charging sites be postponed or initiated quickly in order to send a signal and to promote the market for e-cars? In other words, a number of contextual constraints emerged during the first period of etrans. They surfaced in the project and influenced the focus of the project in rather pragmatic ways: ×

It was realized that the initial focus on private nascent users of e-cars had to be reconsidered. Private users were not likely to be first movers, but would postpone their engagement until the right meaningful window of use would open. Two opportunities emerged. One was to inspire an entrepreneurial venture on new models of car ownership. Another was to turn to the more motivated public users with different perspectives on the use of e-cars. × The anthropological study as well as the public debate opened the eyes of the members of the design team, realizing that systemic changes were at stake: it was not the e-car as such, but the meaning of the e-transport in people’s everyday lives that was the key issue – it is a system in itself. × The forces at play in the transition of the system imply, among other things that no one—neither in Denmark nor in the EU—has been able to reach an agreement on the standards of the plug(s) to be used in the power charging stands and in the cars. The lack of standards for loading plugs and loading stations opened for prototyping flexible solutions that might solve the key problem – that e-car drivers have to bring along a large number of different plugs, as shown on the photo, if they want to charge their cars in public spaces. During the three design loops, it was realized that the design projects were important elements supporting the process of transition rather than final solutions. It was also realized that although experiences with car users were important, it was equally important to invite entrepreneurs and organizations into sessions of visualization and co-creation. These stakeholders were critical for opportunity identification and for the creation of viable commercial solutions. Meaning creation with these stakeholders differs from those of the private family-based users.


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition

Figure 9.5 A mess of plugs to carry Reference Rapport 3 Charging of electric cars (2011), page 36


Christensen & Mikkelsen

Discussions – innovation systems in a micro perspective Views from within the micro space looking out on to the grand space of systemic innovations offer different perspectives on the dynamic forces than views from the top overlooking the technological and institutional setting. Perspectives on contingencies also vary. While users and interaction with users and other stakeholders are absent in the dominant design perspective, the user-producer interaction perspective has been a fundamental issue in the national systems of innovation perspective from the very beginning (Lundvall, 1992), but it is a supply-driven business to business perspective, with a strong focus on the role that formalized R&D units play in learning and interaction in the network of institutions. A general perception seems to be that national systems of innovation are founded on a heritage of evolving institutional structures including relationship building among key actors of the system. This view tends to disregard or leave little space for individual entrepreneurial agency, including user- or rather opportunity-driven innovation, including the role of design-driven opportunity creation (Ács, Autio and Szerb, 2014). Seen from the micro perspective of the individual actor in a local context, this entrepreneurial agency and creative interaction with local stakeholders and users seems to be an important phenomenon, contributing to the dynamics of systemic innovation. In “etrans” designers created robustness in the face of the unpredictable pace of the grand transformation cycle of e-transport, simply by creating temporary solutions facilitating small-scale projects in the local city landscape that seems irreversible. Designers also experimented with motivated public users in the region in order to sustain their mobile home service to citizens. When looking at the systemic innovation of e-transport it seems obvious that both the STI perspective and the DUI perspective mentioned are present and blending. Around the technological core of the batteries, the electric engine and the power supply system etc. R&D units of large enterprises and research institutions are important interactive players as well as competitors. In their competitive environment they, of course, search for innovative solutions sustaining their position and ongoing business. Also in the political context, a macro perspective points to the alignment with STI modes of system development, including the temptation to find the final solution (for example on batteries) and hesitate until it is found. The political system, national as well as global, may thus have strong aspects characterized by the production of stalemate situations: strong signals, weak action. However, the huge number of entrepreneurial ventures emerging around the e-car (Tesla and Fisher), the power loading system (for example ‘Better Place’ and ChooseEV), service and other infrastructural elements, including the social infrastructure, as well as the local projects initiatives taken by local public sector agents, all in all prove that the process of trial and error in doing, using and interacting are of importance for the dynamics of systemic innovation. No doubt, there are interactive links between the actors engaged in the STI perspective and those engaged in the DUI perspective, as also demonstrated in etrans, but the processes of creative co-creation go far beyond the conceptual limits of the macro models perspectives.

In a micro perspective, the demand side, the local user communities, and the interaction of nascent users and entrepreneurial organizations and public authorities localized upstream in proximity of the nascent users are thus a key focus point. The user-producer interactions in this perspective are seen as innovative drivers due to the insights provided into the practical gaps between needs and present technical and commercial possibilities. This upstream user-producer interaction in the value chain encompasses strong experimental elements. In his work ‘Democratic Innovation’ Von Hippel (2005) pointed to the present and future role of innovative user communities taking the lead in new product development. He pays less attention to innovative communities of public and private entrepreneurs that seem to play a key role in the dynamics of disruptive innovations at the architectural level of systemic innovation. In etrans and other projects the role of the interactive experimentation is a way of exchanging insights among users and, not least, among users and local business stakeholders and public service and infrastructure providers in the vicinity. In turn, these interactive experiments lead to the creation of serendipity and thus fertilize the ground for new solutions. This may be seen as a gateway to new conceptual blends and opportunity creation. In etrans in particular, these perspectives turn the attention to the role of opportunity design of for example new services mending deficiencies in the present context. Ultimately this is leading to efforts to design new entrepreneurial strategies and business models closing the gaps in the slow technological progress. The numerous small-scale projects, like etrans, taking place internationally constitute a melting pot of entrepreneurial experiments and knowledge sharing, instituting small irreversible steps on a long ladder that, step by step, may lead to the ultimate change of the grand system. However, this process also includes a massive process of ‘fail forward.’ However, the essence here is that the systemic nature of innovations changes the rules of the game. It changes the balance between innovations as the result of intentional strategies and conscious planning (STI) and innovation outcomes based on doing, using and interacting (DUI). Systemic innovations thus take the role of designers to the level of the ‘fourth order’ of design (Buchanan, 1995). However, from the perspective of systemic innovation the role of designing does change more radically than the ‘fourth order’ of design seems to suggest. Conclusions and perspectives The question posed in the beginning of this contribution was: What are the drivers of systemic innovations and how does the interplay of macro and micro intentions and actions lead to breakthrough innovations – or the opposite: innovative stalemate situations. This contribution has taken a micro analytical perspective on large systemic innovations. The aim is to contribute to an understanding of the dynamics in numerous ‘small’ projects on the micro level and institutional drivers for change at the macro level. From a macro perspective, systemic innovations may be seen as a threat to established dominant designs and their technological and managerial trajectories. Thus, they may not only destroy competence in the individual incumbent organization, but also disrupt balances established under the umbrella of the existing


The Rocky Road To Radical Transition


Christensen & Mikkelsen

dominant design, including disruption of standards, business networks, and collaborative routines and, not least, eliminate core competencies embedded in the collaborative relations among key actors in the dominant design. The wellsprings for systemic innovation are seen as either external to the system—stemming from new technological inventions, contingencies or innovations in the political system that are framing the system—or as internal, emerging from new knowledge, relations and interactions formatted in the system and driven by interactive learning processes among actors in the system. In the two macro models presented, the entrepreneurial drivers are not given a profound role as a driving force for change. However, other contributors (Hannan and Freeman, 1982; Baumol, 2004; Christensen and Overdorf, 2000; Hamel, 2000) and recently Ács, S., Autio, E. and Szerb, L. (2014) have stressed this wellspring for radical innovation. They agree that incumbent players are often bound by routines and their beaten tracks of conduct. They are unable to pre-sense (Charmer, 2007) futures outside that range. As Charmer (Op. Cit.) notes, many organizations ‘download’ the past in their efforts to imagine the future. Innovative entrepreneurs, on the other hand, do not suffer from such path dependencies and thus have a wider horizon as regards possible and impossible futures to aim at. From this viewpoint, dominant design is like a floating amoeba with permeable borders, ever changing shape and position absorbing energy from its surroundings. Although many stakeholders and actors in the system have intentions to control and develop the system, these intentions are not the sole governing principle. Rather, it is the numerous entrepreneurial initiatives and ventures nursed by and living in the system that eventually alters it. This dynamic is also reflected in the case of etrans. While Keynes coined the term that “in the long run we are all dead” we may conclude that all innovations are temporary, some of them even in the short run. In this entrepreneurial micro perspective, users, user communities and ‘designerly’ visions, experiments and interactive prototyping are seen as key drivers for innovation, disregarding the long-term range of systemic innovations and grand visions. Instead, they focus on design of opportunities at hand eventually paving the road—the rocky road—to the future and to radical transitions.

References Ács, S., Autio, E. and Szerb, L. 2014. National Systems of Entrepreneurship: Measurement Issues and Policy Implications. Research Policy, 43, pp. 476–494. Andersen, P. H. and Strandskov, J. 2008. Schumpeterian Competition: A Book Review. Academy of Management Review, 33, 3, pp. 790–794. Baumol, W. J. 2004. Entrepreneurial Cultures and Countercultures. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 2004, 3, 3, pp. 316–326. Buchanan, R. 1998. Branzi’s Dilemma: Design in Contemporary Culture. Design Issues, 14, 1. pp. 3–20. Carlsson, B., Jocobsson, S., Holmen, M. and Rickne, A. 2002. Innovation Systems: Analytical and Methodological Issues. Research Policy, 31, 2, pp. 233–245. Charmer, O. C. 2007. Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco. Christensen, C. and Overdorf, M. 2000. Meeting the Challenge of Disruptive Change. Harvard Business Review, March-April, pp. 3–13.

The Design Lover//The City Bohemian//The Environmentalist//The Technology Entusiast – A Design Manual for the Electric Car Market). Kolding. Flyvbjerg, B. 2011. Case Study. In Denzin, K. and Lincoln, Y. S., (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, 4th Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA., pp. 301–316. Freeman, C., 1982. Technical Infrastructure and International Competitiveness. Paper submitted to the OECD ad-group on Science, Technology and Competitiveness. August. Freeman, C. 1995. The National Innovation Systems in historical perspective. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 19, 1. Haakansson, H. and Waluszewski, A. 2002. Path-dependence: Restricting or Facilitating Technical Development? Journal of Business Research, 55, pp. 561–570. Hamel, G. 1996. Strategy as Revolution. Harvard Business Review, July-August, pp. 69–82. Hamel, G. 2000. Leading the revolution. Harvard Business School Press, Boston. Hannan, M. T. and Freeman, J. 1982. Structural Inertia and Organizational Change. American Sociological Review, 49, 2, pp. 149–164.

Etrans, 2011, Report no. 3 – Opladning af elbiler. En Global Status med Anbefalinger og Designforslag (Charging e-cars. A Global Status with Recommendations and Design Suggestions). Kolding.

Henderson, R. M. and Clark, K. B. 1990. Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and the Failure of Established Firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, pp. 9–30.

Etrans, 2009. Report no. 0 – Data Report// Anthropological Field Study in Relation to Project etrans. Kolding.

Lorenz, E. 2005. Developing Indicators for Skills and Innovation. Contribution to the Trend Chart Workshop Skills for Innovation: Ensuring the Competitive Future of Companies, European Trend Chart on Innovation, Bruxelles.

Etrans, 2009. Report no. 1: Statusjægeren// Pragmatikeren //Rationalisten//Designelskeren //Storbybohemen//Miljøets vogter//Teknikentusiasten. En designhåndbog for elbiler (The Status Seeker//The Pragmatist//The Rationalist//


Lundvall, B-Å. (ed.) 1992. National Systems of Innovation: Towards a Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning. London, Pinter Publisher. The Rocky Road To Radical Transition

219 Lundvall, B.-Å. 2005. National Innovation Systems – Analytical Concept and Development Tool. DRUID Tenth Summer Conference, Copenhagen. Lundvall, B-Å. 2007. National Innovation Systems – Analytical Concept and Development Tool. Industry and Innovation, 14, 1, pp. 95–119 (revised version of Lundvall, 2005). Maula, M., Keil, T. and Salmenkaita, J-P. 2006. Open Innovation in Systemic Innovation Contexts. Open Innovation: researching a New Paradigm, Chesbrough, H. and West, J. (eds.), pp. 241–257. Oxford University Press. Rosenberg, N., Nelson, R.R. 1994. American Universities and Technical Advance in Industry. Research Policy, 23, pp. 323–348. Sanders, E. and Stappers, J. P. 2008. Co-creation and the New Landscapes of Design. CoDesign, 4, 1, pp. 5–18. Sanders, E. 2013. Co-designing Can Seed the Landscape for Radical Innovation and Sustainable Change. In this volume, chapter 4. Teece, D. J. and Pisano, G. 1994. The Dynamic Capabilities of a Firm: An Introduction. Industrial and Corporate Change, 3, 3. pp. 537–556. Tushman, M. T. and Anderson, P. 1986. Technological Discontinuities and Organizational Environments. Administrative Science Quarterly, 31, pp. 439–465. Von Hippel, E. 2005. Democratizing Innovation. MIT Press, Massachusetts. Utterback, J. and Abernathy, W. 1975. A Dynamic Model of Product and Process Innovation. Omega, 3. pp. 639–656.

Christensen & Mikkelsen


EPILOGUE Roads Taken and Paths yet to be Explored



EPILOGUE Roads Taken and Paths yet to be Explored Poul RIND Christensen & Sabine Junginger

Each of the authors who have contributed to this anthology has taken his or her own road to highlight dynamics, challenges and prospects associated with radical innovation and change. Looking back on the roads that have been taken, we find a landscape of inspiring junctions among the contributions as well as tracks jointly followed. At the same time the different paths chosen also reveal a variety of perspectives on the innovation environment and underscore the diverse views on radical innovation and change. At first sight, some of these views may seem to be in contrast to each other, but as we get closer, they form mutually inspiring approaches to co-sensing and co-creation of new tracks in the nexus of design and innovation research. Inspiring dilemmas and paradoxes appear in every chapter, which, in our view, point to new paths of research and new forms of knowledge generation to be explored further. In our quest to identify key opportunities and impediments associated with design-led innovation and change, four key issues or themes emerge that can guide future research: × × × ×

Images of radical innovation and change The role of the context Co-design, users and stakeholders Rigidities, inertia and resistance

Images of radical innovation and change Images of radical innovation and change form a theme that positions our view of innovation and what we think innovation should be. Even in such a short book, we find no agreement on what actually constitutes innovation but encounter many different interpretations.

For Åsa Öberg and Roberto Verganti innovation is the creation of radical new meaning as a key dimension that expands traditional perspectives and spaces for innovation typically embedded in technology and market trajectories. In her contribution, Birgit H. Jevnaker adds to this perspective with her case on “the meaning of sitting.” In their reflections on how to create radical new meanings, Öberg and Verganti, as well as Jevnaker, reflect on some of the prospects and dilemmas generated by the theme of creating meaning. While Öberg and Verganti point to the range of interpreters and the role of top managers in the innovation of meaning, Jevnaker highlights the positive paradoxes of collaborative action, finding that opposing tensions may lead to collaborative action. In her contribution on co-design, Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders introduces the role of a collective mindset. In short, her image of innovation and change depends on the creation of meaning as a collective, that is an intersubjective phenomenon. In her view, design-led innovations are not likely to take place unless visions about the futures are led by co-design activities that include a diversity of stakeholders. This touches on a recurrent theme in all the contributions, namely that radical innovation does not take place in a vacuum of isolated organizations. This image of innovation and change challenges a perspective that has dominated previous research into innovation and that has been challenged in literature on ‘Open Innovation’ by Chesbrough (2003) and by Von Hippel (2005), for example. However, the theme does pose a paradox, as indicated by Öberg and Verganti, namely, on one hand, that top management cannot outsource interpretations, and, on the other hand, that the corporate culture of sameness is a hurdle to disruptive innovations, as Cordy Swope claims (chapter 4). In his chapter on design-led continuous innovation, Martin Woolley presents yet another image of innovation. In this view, conceptual knowledge through design and analytical knowledge1 through research interact and lead to a continuous process of ‘modelled realities.’ The radical image of the model is a recurrent launch of operational designs, which signals a vision for the future alongside accumulating levels of impact. Two key aspects are emphasized, namely the ability to adapt to a changing context allowing for serendipity, including the issue of how to handle competing dormant ideas that surface during the project; the other aspect is the key role adopted by public-private partnerships driving the innovation process. Through his model of DCI Woolley is drawing attention to the intertwined process of incremental and radical innovation and the key role of long-range framing of design processes. Again we see a collective perspective founded on a network of partners, a perspective in which relationship management gains importance and calls for a design platform for co-creation and task partitioning. This view is also outlined in Poul Rind Christensen and Mette Mikkelsen’s micro perspective on systemic innovation. The Role of the Context From the outset, innovation is paradoxical, since it takes place within a context and depends on it; yet it also involves the change of that very same context. All our contributors refer in one form or another to the role of the context for the creation and implementation of radical innovations. However, the level of contextual aggregation that each author takes into account differs – ranging from the impact of dominant design, across sectorial considerations to considerations of the organizational context and finally actors’ networks in which the innovative venture in most contributions is seen as embedded. Schumpeter in his lifelong studies of the dynamics of innovation changed his perspective on the primary source of innovation, referred to as MARK I and MARK II (see




The terms conceptual and analytical knowledge are here adopted from Hatchuel and Weil (2003).


Christensen & Junginger

Andersen, 2012). As a young scholar he found that the wellsprings of innovation and technological progress came primarily from the spirit of entrepreneurs disrupting routinebased incumbent firms (MARK I). Later on in his carrier, in the 1940s, he found that the oligopolistic competition between large corporations with their accumulated resources and R&D facilities was the prime source of innovation (MARK II). The change of perspective was undoubtedly influenced by the huge changes in US society after World War II – the context for his research on innovation. Despite a general agreement on a contingency view of innovation (i.e., the view that innovation is depending on its context), researchers have, since Schumpeter’s innovative divide, been split between those who see corporate organizations as major drivers of innovation and those who consider incumbents of the industry as obstacles to radical innovation and change and who thus turn their attention to entrepreneurial forces (Ács, et al, 2014; Baumol, 2004; Hannan and Freeman, 1982). These tensions between incumbents and newcomers are observable in the works presented here. But we can also glimpse a new understanding that these tensions are dissolving through interaction and the development of new paths (Eva Heiskanen et. al.) leading to more complementary roles where incumbents and newcomers drive the dynamics of radical innovation in concert (Poul Rind Christensen and Mette Mikkelsen). The context itself, too, is not thought of as static but as malleable, changeable and emerging (Woolley). Without exception, each chapter treats context as part of the design project and the design problem. This contrasts with a still common understanding that context might be seen solely as a given framework. Our authors are united in a design-based view that challenges participants to consider “what-if” scenarios thus demonstrating that a design-led view might rejuvenate or redefine context in order to leverage an ongoing innovation process. Generally speaking, we can distinguish between two kinds of contexts outlined in the previous chapters. There is the direct situating context of the innovation process. Context here refers to the organizations and stakeholders involved, including diverse types of users and user communities. This context is in close proximity to the specific innovation project. Another kind of context refers to the more distant context of innovation systems as described by Christensen and Mikkelsen; the policy environment illustrated in the chapter by Sabine Junginger, and society at large exemplified in the chapters by Swope and Woolley. The recognition that innovation is context dependent points to an important opportunity for future research on contextual dilemmas and paradoxes. One of the paradoxes is the need to involve people who may not want to be involved. The question of how to activate and include critical actors in the context of an innovation project has been identified as a key issue for its success by Swope and also by Mikael Scherdin and Ivo Zander. Woolley showed how collaborative ventures offer a way of engaging external stakeholders. The example of public innovation labs provided by Junginger reiterates the point that service innovation inevitably demands organizational changes. All innovations impact the context in which they are implemented – intentionally or unintentionally. Therefore, research on how to pre-sense and experiment with contextual impact in design-led innovation projects seems to be an important track to develop and pursue. Co-design, users, stakeholders and translators Although it is a vague concept, user-driven innovation and the active inclusion of users in design processes has been a hot topic over the last decade or so. Not surprisingly, several

chapters in this anthology have sought to critically engage with the challenges of the concept and the practice itself. The meaning of user-driven remains disputed, though. For some it is merely an effort to explicitly state that a user has a ‘persona’ that needs to be articulated and given a voice. This view is then contrasted with traditional market research where users are seen as consumers and tend to remain anonymous and often get lumped together according to preferences or other specific criteria in abstract data. However, as noted by Christensen and Mikkelsen, in a world with a highly specialized division of labor, users are found all along the value chain leading from primary raw materials to final consumption and actually further on to those who are recycling and re-using products. Therefore, the question arises: which user leads at what time and with what legitimacy or authority? Several contributions consider user-producer interaction—including co-design—in business-to-business (B2B) networks as well as in public-private innovation projects as a distinct driver for radical innovation. User-producer interaction in business networks has been researched extensively over the years (cp. Haakansson and Waluszewski, 2007 and Lundvall, 2009). However, as noted in several contributions throughout this anthology, the process of co-design in B2B networks and in design-led innovation remains a path that calls for further research and exploration. While most empirical studies on users’ innovative contributions to innovation focus on the “fuzzy front end” of design and the early stages of the innovation process, Heiskanen et al. (chapter 8) focus on the role of users and user communities in the stages after the launch of the initial innovation. Their case study on heating exchange systems highlights interesting factors that point to the potentials of continuous innovation. They demonstrate how different types of users and user communities contribute to continuous innovation of launched products and systems of heating. In the end these contributions may lead to radical alterations of the whole system. Their concept of ‘innofusion’ can be described as a marked distinction between “pre-launch” and “post-launch” user engagements. This post-launch perspective aligned with the diffusion of innovation to diverse users and user communities seeks to understand innovation as a continuous process where intentional and emerging perspectives iterate and alter the directions of the initial innovation. The role of post-launch co-creation with users, user communities and stakeholders in the business network is important for a more in-depth understanding of the dynamics involved in design-led continuous innovation, as demonstrated in the chapter by Woolley. A number of interesting research issues come to mind: The role of strong and weak ties on the network formation in continuous innovation; the role of experiments; prototype cycles (alluded to by Sanders), and communication platforms for co-creations and the management of relationships in these types of long-run design-led innovation projects. No doubt the building of tight and long-term relationships and the management of these relationships have strong impacts on the collective creativity mentioned by Sanders, and they also play a role in the public innovation labs discussed by Junginger. In several contributions, the paradoxical relationship and interaction between external designers and their business contractors is discussed. Jevnaker, for example, reflects on the paradox that external designers may enrich corporate cultures with new perspectives and yet have difficulties gaining acceptance due to cultural constraints within their host organization. Swope sees “otherness” as a primary cause of failure by consultants – “they are not part of the organization,” as he states. This points to a basic, critical research agenda, touched on by several contributions, namely the paradoxical meeting of the administrative, goal-driven logics of management in incumbent organizations and the creative opportunity-seeking logics in small, entrepreneurial design firms.




Christensen & Junginger

This line of research is stipulated, for example, by Sarasvathy in her studies of causal and effectual reasoning in management and entrepreneurship (Sarasvathy, 2008). However, the role of designing in this divide is seldom explored or discussed. The role of translators has been mentioned in several contributions, most explicitly in the chapter by Öberg and Verganti. Their emphasis on the role of translators touches on an increasingly important research topic: Who are the interpreters of ideas and visions generated in collaboration with users, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders? In the end, it may seem natural that this role is embedded within project management, but under the heading ‘outlandish.’ Öberg and Verganti (chapter 1) share a structural dilemma with Swope (chapter 4) that the culture of established organizations has difficulties adopting views and ideas that break with existing corporate assumptions. These have been instituted through routines and manifested in strategic perspectives that over time have become the foundation of the governing culture of the organization. While Öberg and Verganti dwell on the role of top management, the range of translators and the network of actors they engage, Sanders adds that collective creativity on the one hand is of vital importance for success, but on the other hand contains the critical issue of the mindset of people participating and facilitating co-creation. This points to yet another important topic of research, namely the role of being in step and thus the role of creative flow in a collective setting. This, in turn, leads to the role of spaces for co-creation, since the stakeholders engaged vary along the innovation process from the “fuzzy front end” of design to the “fuzzy back end,” dealing with implementation and commercialization. There are different spaces for co-creation throughout this process and they tend to be separated. Rigidities, inertia and resistance The links between radical innovation and radical change surface in a number of contributions. It is especially noticeable in themes where the inauguration of radical ideas and—in later loops—the implementation of radical innovation demand radical change in the organizational design, the organizational culture, the collaborate atmosphere, and the radical changes in the collective cognition of the organization. It is also in the nexus of radical innovation and radical change that rigidities, inertia and resistance emerge as important research topics on diverse levels—ranging from the individual human actor, the team, the department management, corporate management, the entire organization, the network level, the level of the dominant design system—to society at large. Resistance, rigidities and inertia are thus core issues at stake, when we study processes of radical innovation and the role of design. And one could say: Obviously, since we are talking about forces of creative destruction leading to rejuvenation of what is, and, in cases of strong inflexibilities, direct threats of obsolescence. In her contribution, Sanders notes that the result of front-end explorations can go in several directions, since ‘the path to the future is not known a priori’ (page 134). As stressed by Scherdin and Zander, the road from idea to implementation may be filled with resistance based on stakeholders’ particular agendas, perspectives, time lines, etc. As a collective agency these actors and their wider ‘hinterland,’ as described, face dangers of stagnation. Several contributions also note that inertia and rigidities are found at the organizational level as well as the systemic level, leading to rejection of innovations for a variety of reasons – many of which remain unexamined. The complexity of rigidities turns into a wicked problem, when one realizes that cognitive limitations are inherent characteristics of users and stakeholders as well as managers

of established organizations wishing to pursue radical innovation. Also, the willingness (to embark on radical innovations) is contingent on corporate invested interests and strategic intentions embedded within the organizations on one hand, and the self-interests of stakeholders and users on the other hand. Woolley as well as Scherdin and Zander point to the important ambiguity inherent in projects that are entrenched in a wider network of stakeholders, namely that some stakeholders grow competing ideas or develop self-interest out of step with the common vision or the collective interests of the project. These experiences challenge present knowledge regarding relationship management and strategies in innovation projects in general and in design-based projects in particular. All of these references to rigidities, inertia and resistance add up to two major conclusions leading to important tracks of research, namely the critical issue of implementation, or, in other words, “the fuzzy back end” of design-led innovation. Who are the stakeholders that should be invited, and how does the space for co-creation in the “fuzzy back end” of design and innovation differ from that in the “fuzzy front end” of design? However, it seems fair to conclude, that a key to design perspectives on radical innovation is the path that is taken in turning core rigidities into constructive constraints paving the way for radical new ideas of the future to turn into radical innovations.



229 References Ács, S., Autio, E. and Szerb, L. 2014. National Systems of Entrepreneurship: Measurement issues and policy implications. Research Policy, 43, pp. 476–494. Baumol, W. J. 2004. Entrepreneurial Cultures and Countercultures. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 2004, 3, 3, pp. 316–326. Chesbrough, H. W. 2003. Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Haakansson, H. and Waluszewski, A. Eds. 2007. Knowledge and Innovation in Business and Industry: The Importance of Using Others. Routledge. Hannan, M. T. and Freeman, J. 1982. Structural Inertia and Organizational Change. American Sociological Review, 49, 2, pp. 149–164. Hatchuel, A. and Weil, B. 2003. A New Approach of Innovation Design: An introduction to C-K Theory. International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED, Stockholm. Lundvall, B.-Å. 2009. Innovation as an Interactive Process: User-producer interaction to the national system of innovation. African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development, 1, 2, pp. 10–24. Sarasvathy, S. 2008. Effectuation – Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise. Edward Elgar, MA, USA. Schumpeter, J. 1942. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper and Roe Publishers. Von Hippel, E. 2005. Democratizing Innovation. MIT Press, Massachusetts.

Christensen & Junginger


About the auThors

Poul Rind Christensen (editor) Poul Rind Christensen holds a chair in design and innovation management at the University of Southern Denmark. He is former head of research at Design School Kolding. His research has focused on design and innovation management, entrepreneurship and small business dynamics. His research has been published in a variety of international research journals and anthologies, and he is a former board member of the Danish Council for Strategic Research. He is currently head of the Center for Design, Culture & Management. He has also served as editorial board member and reviewer for several international research iournals and is a former board member of the European Council for Small Business Research. Eva Heiskanen Eva Heiskanen is a research professor at the Finnish National Consumer Research Centre and Visiting Professor at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University, Sweden. Her PhD is in Organization and Management. Her work focuses on the role of consumers and other users in the adoption of new more sustainable solutions, especially in the context of residential energy consumption. Sampsa Hyysalo Sampsa Hyysalo is associate professor in co-design at the Aalto School of, Art, Design and Architecture and Senior Researcher at the Aalto University School of Economics, Helsinki Finland. Hyysalo’s research and teaching focus on user involvement in innovation and the co-evolution of technologies, practices and organizations. He received his PhD in Behavioral Sciences at the University of Helsinki and holds a docentship in information systems, specializing in user-centered design. Hyysalo was awarded the Academy of Finland 2010 prize for Social Impact of Research. Mikko Jalas Mikko Jalas holds a PhD from and is a researcher at the Aalto University School of Business,


Department of Management and International Business in Helsinki, Finland. His research focuses on residential energy consumption and production practices, time use and everyday life. He has published his work in journals such as Ecological Economics, Industrial Ecology and Time & Society. Birgit Helene Jevnaker Birgit Helene Jevnaker is Associate Professor of Industrial Development at BI Norwegian Business School‘s Innovation Department in Oslo, where she currently heads the faculty group for entrepreneurship. She holds a PhD in business and economics, with specialization in innovation & entrepreneurship. She is also a civil economist (MSc) with higher studies in administration from Norwegian School of Economics, and additional studies in public administration and in psychology from the University of Bergen. Jevnaker has conducted research on innovation, design, and collaboration between expert designers and companies. She has also researched topics such as SME cooperation, intrapreneurship, innovative furniture design, industrial product and service design, as well as leadership, knowledge and learning in a variety of organizations and settings. She previously worked as a researcher at the Institute for Research in Economics and Business Administration (SNF), Bergen. Jevnaker has coedited three books including the anthology Management of Design Alliances, published by J. Wiley. Her many articles on design developments and capabilities have appeared in e.g. Design Studies, Design Issues, Design Management Journal, The Design Journal, Society and Business Review, DMI:Review, and in several research-based books. She is a cofounder and member of the European Academy of Design and its International Committee and is appointed to the research-advisory board of the Design Management Institute, Boston. Sabine Junginger (editor) Sabine Junginger is an Associate Professor at Design School Kolding in Denmark and a member of the Centre for Design, Culture, and Management, a collaborative venture with the University of Southern About the auhors

233 Denmark. From 2007 to 2012, she was an assistant professor and founding member of “ImaginationLancaster” at Lancaster University in the UK. Her research focuses on design in the organization and how designing as an activity relates to the activities of changing, organizing and managing. She is particularly interested in the design of public services where the design approaches chosen by public managers, policy-makers and frontline workers have organizational, social and individual consequences. Her work has appeared in Design Issues, The Design Journal, The Journal of Business Strategy, the Design Management Journal and the Design Management Review. In 2006, she was one of the first two recipients of the PhD in Design from Carnegie Mellon University (USA). Together with Rachel Cooper, she has edited the Handbook of Design Management for Berg Publishers (2011). Recent book chapters include “Public Foundations of Service Design” (2012) and “Policy-Making as Designing” (forthcoming). She is a member of the advisory boards of the Danish crossministerial research unit “MindLab” and “DesignGov” in Australia and a Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. Jouni K. Juntunen Jouni K. Juntunen is a doctoral candidate and project researcher at the Department of Management and International Business, Aalto University School of Business in Helsinki, Finland. In his dissertation he investigates technology domestication processes, user development, and user innovations in the context of renewable, decentralized energy technology. Juntunen studied Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu, Finland. Prior to joining Aalto University, he worked for 15 years in the telecommunication business in Finland, China and Japan and held positions in the areas of design for manufacturing, product management, technology marketing and industry analyst relations. Whilst pursuing his doctoral studies, he is also working on a research project that is exploring local adaptation and innovation-in-practice in energy efficiency and carbon neutrality. Raimo Lovio Raimo Lovio is Professor of Environmental and Innovation Management at the Department of

About the auhors Management and International Business, Aalto University School of Business, Finland. He runs several research projects on the breakthrough of renewable and energy-efficient technologies such as solar power, sustainable system-level transitions, innovation and technology policy. His recent work has focused on path dependence and path creation as well as the role of users, the public sector, and civil society in innovation. Mette Mikkelsen Mette Mikkelsen is Vice Dean of Design School Kolding. She was head of the e-trans project. Her current area of interest is social design. She is head of the Social Design Lab at Design School Kolding and represents Design School Kolding in the international DESIS network. Åsa Öberg Åsa Öberg is a researcher at the Information Design Department at Mälardalen University, Sweden, a visiting scholar at the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano and an art director at the consulting institute Project Science. After ten years of experience in marketing and design in different industries, she is now conducting research on how companies can propose radical innovation of product/service meanings, how innovation of meaning shapes society and businesses, and how meanings can be represented and embodied. Her studies are conducted in cooperation with both Swedish and International organizations. She combines advanced research methodologies with consulting practice aimed at testing and implementing new innovation approaches. She has been advising managers in companies such as P&G/Gillette, Unilever, Gucci, Deloitte Australia, Cielo Brazil, Vox Poland and Abb Robotics as well as Public Swedish institutions like The Västmanland County Administrative Board and The Munktell Science Park of Eskilstuna. Her Licentiate thesis “Innovation Driven by Meaning” was published in 2012 and her Doctoral thesis will be published in spring 2015. She has authored articles presented at several international conferences and in journals such as Industrial Marketing Management and International Journal of Innovation in Management. At The International

Conference on Innovation and Management, Honululu, she was awarded the Best Paper Award 2014. Her mission is to spread the awareness of the potential of product meaning to both companies and students, for example through seminars as TEDx-talks or the Swedish Research Grand Prix competition. A special interest is the link between meaning-making and sketches and she is a member of the Urban Sketchers local group in her hometown of Eskilstuna. Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders Elizabeth Sanders is the founder of MakeTools, LLC, a company that explores new spaces in the emerging design landscapes, and a professor at The Ohio State University. She is a visionary in pre-design research, having introduced many of the tools, techniques and methods being used today to drive and/ or inspire design from a human-centered perspective. Sanders has practiced co-designing across all the design disciplines. Some of her clients have included Apple, AT&T, Coca Cola, Compaq, IBM, Intel, Johnson Controls, Kodak, Microsoft, Motorola, Procter & Gamble, Roche Diagnostics, Steelcase, Thermos, 3M, and Xerox. Her current focus is on bringing participatory, human-centered design thinking and co-creation practices to the challenges we face for the future. Sanders lectures about and offers learning experiences in human-centered design research and innovation for clients, colleagues and students around the world. Her new book, co-authored with Pieter Jan Stappers, is called Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design. She has a PhD in Experimental and Quantitative Psychology and a BA in both Psychology and Anthropology. Mikael Scherdin Mikael Scherdin (PhD) is Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of the Entrepreneurship Lab at Uppsala University (Sweden). Scherdin has been alternating between academic studies and practicing entrepreneurship with start-ups in several fields: IT, art and design, content production and social entrepreneurship activities and has over many years gained deep insights into the essence of


entrepreneurship. For the past few years Scherdin has been involved in innovation issues in connection with academia and Scherdin is now the Director of Entrepreneurship Lab at Uppsala University, which is a hybrid between an innovation support unit and education of entrepreneurs. It could be considered a social innovation. Cordy Swope Throughout the course of a 20-year career as a design and innovation leader with companies such as Toyota, IDEO, and Continuum, Cordy Swope has led human-centered, interdisciplinary teams in creating profitable new brands, products, services and businesses in a wide range of industries for companies such as, BASF, BMW, Eli Lilly, France Telecom, GE Capital, Herman Miller, Nokia, P&G, Mercedes Benz, Novartis, Renault, Siemens, Telefonica and Timberland. He has won awards for both design research and communication design and his work has resulted in a handful of utility patents in the US and in Europe. His work has also appeared in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He holds a BA in English Literature from Temple University and a Master’s in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute. He teaches master classes at Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) and the Design School Kolding in Denmark as well as at the School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute in New York. He is currently Managing Partner at “studiomem,” a design-led innovation consultancy in Munich and member of the advisory board of the Front End of Innovation Conference Europe. Roberto Verganti Roberto Verganti is Professor of Leadership and Innovation at Politecnico di Milano, where he teaches in the School of Management and the School of Design, and where he directs MaDe In Lab, the laboratory on the MAnagement of DEsign and INnovation. He has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Business School twice, and at the Copenhagen Business School. Roberto serves on the European Design Leadership Board of the European Commission. His research on management of design and design clusters has been awarded the Compasso d’Oro (the most prestigious design award in Italy). About the auhors

235 He is the author of “Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating what Things Mean” published by Harvard Business Press in 2009. The book has been selected by the Academy of Management for the George R. Terry Book Award as one of the best 6 books published in 2008 and 2009 that have made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of management knowledge. It has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Portuguese. He has issued more than 150 articles, including “Developing Products on Internet Time” published in Management Science, and “Innovating Through Design,” “Which Kind of Collaboration is Right for You,” and “Designing Breakthrough Products” all published in the Harvard Business Review. He has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times, BusinessWeek and is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review online magazine. He has served as an advisor to executives and senior managers at a wide variety of manufacturing and service firms including Ferrari, Ducati, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Gucci, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Microsoft, IBM, Vodafone, Whirlpool, Barilla, Nestlè, L’Oréal, Solvay-Solexis, ABB, Bausch&Lomb, Prysmian, Tetrapak, ARUP, SKY NewsCorp. and Deloitte. He has also helped national and regional governments around the world to conceive design and innovation policies. Martin Woolley With an early background in three dimensional design, Professor Woolley’s research interests now include technology transfer, innovation models, the crafts and environmental sustainability. He has successfully supervised over 15 doctorates and examined 25. As a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, his contributions include writing student competition briefs on sustainable design for several years and chairing judging panels. He was Principle Investigator on a three year EU Fifth Framework project on sustainable pedestrian routes in cities, and a UK EPSRC/AHRC project on the interpersonal communication potential of smart textiles. He previously directed the threeyear ‘Demi Project’ which established web-based sustainable design learning resources for universities. He has recently contributed to a major project to

About the auhors digitize the BT Archive and is currently a researcher on the EU FP7 ‘RICHES’ Programme (Renewal, Innovation and Change: Heritage and European Society). In recent years, personal research interests have been combined with the challenge of directing humanities and practice-based research at Goldsmiths College, Central Saint Martins and currently at Coventry University. He has also conducted advisory work for a range of worldwide institutions, including secondment to the UK Design Council online ‘Knowledge Cell’ project. Professor Woolley has extensive knowledge transfer experience, participating in six successful UK programs with industrial partners. He was a Council member of the Design Research Society for a decade and is now a Fellow of the Society. He chaired two UK subject associations and obtained his PhD for a thesis entitled “Design, Product Identity and Technological Innovation” in 1983. Professor Woolley has served on the UK Government Research Assessment Exercise panel twice and was a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council panel for three years. Ivo Zander Ivo Zander is the Anders Wall Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Department of Business Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden. He received his PhD from the Institute of International Business, Stockholm School of Economics, and has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Business School, SCANCOR at Stanford University, and Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Australia. Before moving into the field of entrepreneurship, he conducted research on regional agglomerations and the internationalization of research and development in multinational corporations. His work has appeared in journals such as Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Industrial and Corporate Change and Research Policy. He has served as an expert evaluator for the Swedish Research Council, the Knowledge Foundation, and the European Science Foundation, and he is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. His current research interests include the organizational dynamics of start-up firms, corporate entrepreneurship, innovation and strategic renewal in the multinational corporation, and the entrepreneurial dynamics of accelerated internationalization.



A academic R&D partnerships  109 active engagement in energy production  189 alternative sitting  50–51, 56 architectural innovation   58, 207 architectural knowledge  206–207 autoethnography 157 B boundary work  54 business model  43, 72–73, 101–102, 107–108, 111, 172, 206, 208, 211–212, 216 C capabilities  12, 31, 33, 42–44, 61, 90, 118, 126, 171, 203, 205–206, 232 carbon emission reductions  175 change organizational  121, 125 radical  see meaning, radical change in social  13, 135, 139 sustainable  15, 133, 135 coanalysis space  147 creation  45, 57, 133, 135–138, 140, 143, 149, 213–215, 223, 224, 226–228, 234 cumulative co-design  174 design  15, 93, 127, 133–145, 148–149, 174, 211–212, 223–226, 232, 234 generation  31, 34 collaboration  45–46, 50, 53, 56, 57, 72, 74–76, 85, 92–93, 118, 121, 127, 133, 148, 160, 162, 203, 209, 211, 213, 227, 232, 235 see also paradoxical collaborative action component knowledge  206 configurational technologies  174 consortium models  110 consumer demand  80, 86 context-dependence 31 contexts of use  16, 172 corporate culture  103, 105, 224, 226 cost-cutting 100 covert and overt design  see design, covert and overt innovation  see innovation, overt/covert


creativity  44, 121, 126, 133, 137–139, 149, 155, 158, 162 collective  15, 133, 137–140, 149, 226–227 individual 138–139 cross skills  205, 207 cultural fit  15, 103 cultural sameness  103 customize  174–175, 190 D design 27 co-  see co-design consecutive design cycles  175, 188 covert and overt  72 cumulative co-  see co-design, cumulative -driven innovation  27, 235 -led   74–75, 77, 80, 83, 89–90, 135, 149, 225 -led continuous innovation (DLCI)  see innovation, design-led continuous -led innovation  see innovation, design-led dominant  205, 206, 217, 227 dominant design perspective  204, 210, 215 incremental  79, 86, 87, 90 interaction  60, 192 see also interaction design lead-user­  see user, lead-user designs loops  208, 214 practice  45, 78, 83, 86, 117–119, 122, 124–125, 127–128 radical  73, 75, 79, 86–88, 91 robust  86, 92 service  see service design strategist  62, 106 user  see user design vehicle  see vehicle design designing for people  138 designing with people  138 divergent thought  105 downsizing 101 DUI (Do, Use and Interact)  205, 215–216 E early adopters  173 equivocal  41–42, 47–48, 50, 52, 57–58, 60–61 etrans  16, 201–202, 207–217 INDEX

239 everyday life  182–183, 190, 201, 232 everyday practices  190 expanding cycle­  191 expert local  173, 177, 181, 187–190 warm  173, 181–182, 190 F fail forward  216 failsafe systems  190 failure  13, 43, 47, 57, 84, 94, 101, 105, 107–108, 156–157, 187–188, 190, 226 in innovation  107 feedback loops  84, 89, 174 Fordist management  206 Frascati Manual  82 fuzzy back end  16 fuzzy front end  134–135, 137–138, 144, 226–228 G government organization  119, 123 H hacks and rebuildings  177 hapless users  189–190 heat pump  15, 171–172, 175–191 heating system  15, 171, 175–176, 178, 182–184, 187–188, 214 hydrogen fuel-cell  73–74 I inertia  123, 155, 223, 227–228 innofusion  15, 172, 174, 191, 226 innovation 101 architectural  see architectural innovation breakthrough  123, 201–202, 216 communities  172, 174 consultants  102, 107 continuous  76, 78–79, 82, 84–85, 88–89, 93, 104, 226 continuous incremental  72 democratic 216 design-led  13–14, 78, 80–81, 84, 86, 90, 94, 138, 149, 223–226, 228, 234 design-led continuous (DLCI)  14, 72–78,

INDEX 80–86, 88, 91, 93–94, 224, 226 disruptive  12, 74, 78, 85–86, 92, 101, 103, 203, 216, 224 failure  see failure in innovation journey  73, 172 lab  see public innovation labs and OPM Innovation Lab National System of  204 of meaning  24–29, 31–35, 224, 233 opportunity-driven 215 overt/covert 72 product  see technologically innovative product public-sector  see public-sector innovation  regime 205 STI  see STI (Science and Technology Innovation) systemic  16, 201–205, 207, 215–217, 224 technological  13, 23, 78, 80–81, 86–87, 92, 235 theories of  24, 33–35 innovative stalemate situations  16, 201–202, 216 institutional context  175, 203 interaction  11, 27, 32, 44, 46, 50, 57, 59, 79–80, 120–121, 125–126, 162, 179–180, 191, 203–205, 211, 215–217 arenas 180 design  43–44, 234 user-producer  204–205, 211, 215–216, 226 interactive experimentation  216 interorganizational 205 interpretation  24, 29, 32–35 , 47, 50, 54, 120, 155, 157, 164, 172, 223–224 invention  44, 71, 79–81, 86–87, 90, 109, 174, 177–178, 180, 190, 203, 217 J just-ship-it 109 M making, telling or enacting  139 managerial trajectories  216 managing  42, 44–45, 48, 57, 60–62, 104, 110, 203, 233–234 as design  45

market-led 135 meaning innovation of  see innovation of meaning product  29, 234 radical change in  24, 33–34 scenario of  30, 32 Microcab  15, 72–80, 82–83, 85–92, 94 micro space  215 mindset  15, 105, 122, 124, 135–136, 138, 141–144, 224, 227 modelled realities  74, 76–77, 83–84, 93–94, 224 modification  79, 172, 174, 177–178, 180, 190–192 N

unconventional 50 working 83 public innovation labs  15, 118–119, 122–128, 225–226 public leaders  125–126 public-sector innovation  15, 117, 119, 122, 124–125, 127 purpose  13–14, 23, 26–29, 32, 35, 51, 55, 76–77, 82, 86, 93, 106, 108, 118, 122–123, 127, 144–145, 157, 163, 181, 186–189, 212–213 Q questioning  33, 104

network perspective  202 networks  32–34, 41–42, 49, 55, 85, 138, 159, 180, 189, 191, 203, 217, 224, 226 new visions  35 niches  16, 172, 191–192 novelty  11, 155, 162, 166, 171 O OPM Innovation Lab  15, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 126, 127 otherness  107, 226 outlandishness  31, 33 P paradox  12, 14, 42, 55, 57–58, 60–61, 105, 126, 187, 223–226 boundary-setting 45 of design innovation  41 positive  41–42, 53, 54, 55, 57, 62, 224 paradoxical collaborative action  54–55 participation  48, 111, 140, 149, 157 peripheral 180 participatory practices  140 participatory workshop  147 peer-to-peer  180, 182, 183, 184, 190 practice core business  105 everyday  see everyday practices participatory  see participatory practices pre-sense  217, 225 prototypes  74, 77, 83, 106–107, 126, 140, 145, 149, 210, 212


R recycling  50, 52–53, 61, 226 relationship  11–14, 28, 31–32, 45, 52, 54, 57, 60, 62, 72, 83, 86, 89, 93, 136–137, 143–144, 156, 181, 203–205, 207, 215, 224, 226, 228 repurposed 177 research applied 82–84 basic 82–84 strategic  74, 78, 80–84, 92, 232 resistance  15, 42, 155–158, 162, 164, 166, 172, 223, 227–228 RoboCoaster  24–27, 29, 31–35 robotics  23–24, 27, 29, 31, 33–34, 233 RobotStudio  27, 29, 33–34 S service design  30, 61, 212, 232–233 skunk works  108–110 sociotechnical transition  171, 173 spin-off  75, 79, 81, 87–88 STI (Science and Technology Innovation)  205, 215–216 Street / B.O.P  109 sustainable change  see change, sustainable mobility  74, 76, 83 technologies  16, 172, 191 see also vehicle design, low-carbon and hydrogen fuel-cell INDEX

T technologically innovative product (TIP)  88 technology configurational  174 domesticating 173 sustainable  see sustainable technologies temporary solutions  215 tension  14, 58–60, 224–225 transdisciplinary  44, 133, 139 U unconventional  50, 58, 60–61, 108 unexpected uses  192 unmet needs and dreams  144, 147 US Office of Personnel Management (US OPM)15, 118–123, 126, 127 see also OPM Innovation Lab user -centered design  120, 174, 232 competent 189 design  173, 177–180 forum  172, 174, 177, 179, 181, 192 hapless  see hapless users lead  175, 187–189, 208–209, 213 lead-user designs  173 modifications  174, 177, 191, 192 -producer interaction  see interaction, user-producer V value -adding features  188 -engineering 100 monetary 136 societal 136–137 use/experience  132, 136 variety  47, 53, 56–57, 85, 89, 137, 172, 181, 191, 213, 223, 227, 232 vehicle design  74, 77, 82, 87 low-carbon 80 niche 74 visualization  133, 139, 149, 214 W work-arounds 177

THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Social Fund THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Regional Development Fund

Investing in your future

ISBN 978–87–90775–74–2

9 788790 775742

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.