Design Thinking at Summer Davos

September 23, 2008

I am just heading over to Tianjin for the Summer Davos conference where there are several sessions touching on design and design thinking as well as interesting sessions on clean energy and innovation for aging. The focus of the summer version of the famous gathering in Davos, Switzerland, is on what the WEF calls the Global Growth Companies. These are the next generation of fast growing companies, many of them hailing from China, India, South America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It is these corporations that are likely to become the global 100 of the future. Given all the furor in the financial markets this week it remains to be seen how much attention design gets but there is no doubt that the GGC companies realize the need to build world class design and innovation capabilities.

I met with the Chairman of one of the fastest growing companies in China yesterday and he made it clear that their highest priority is to build internal design and design thinking talent and that he is looking for help in doing this. Almost certainly the biggest obstacle will be the supply of raw talent. Big investments are being made in Singapore and China around design education but it will likely take a lot more to supply just the demand in China. I am interested in trying to identify where  the interesting experiments are in design education in Asia? Are there equivalents to the Standford D-school or the IIT design program?