3 January 2009

“Transformation” a better concept than “innovation” to guide us forward

Be the first to share

Bruce Nussbaum
At the beginning of last year, we at Experientia worked with a Belgian regional authority on developing the concept for a new design centre, called the Transformation Factory (read more about it in this paper).

Now also Business Week’s Bruce Nussbaum is publicly advocating the concept of transformation, rather than innovation, as the approach we currently need.

A first post on the matter was written on New Year’s Eve, and is recommended reading not just because of Nussbaum’s thinking itself, but also because of the many and sometimes very polemic comments that various readers have been contributing (many of whom are concerned about the introduction of a new buzz word).

“Transformation” captures the key changes already underway and can help guide us into the future. It implies that our lives will increasingly be organized around digital platforms and networks that will replace edifices and big organizations (students already know this, university presidents still have edifice-complexes, which is why so many of them are getting the boot). […]

The concept of “Transformation” […] implies radical transformation of our systems—education, health-care, economic growth, transportation, defense, political representation. It puts the focus on people, designing networks and systems off their wants and needs. It relies on humanizing technology, not imposing technology on humans. It approaches uncertainties with a methodology that creates options for new situations and sorts through them for the best quickly.

Most importantly, “Transformation” accepts the notion that we are in a post-consumer society, defined by two groups of economic players: manufacturers and consumers. “Transformation” deals with a new Creativity Society, in which we are all both producers and consumers of value.

In today’s post “The Transformation Conversation” (no comments as of yet), Nussbaum attempts to integrate and structure the debate by a more systematic outline of why he thinks “the concept of “transformation” is of great[er] utility and power than “innovation” at this point in time”.

Unfortunately all of Nussbaum’s examples come from the USA and he presents the concept as an entirely new neologism, with strict relevance to the corporate world, which of course it isn’t.

Even in design, I need only refer to the paper that Colin Burns, Hilary Cottam et al. published in early 2006 – currently available here.

UPDATE: Reaction by Idris Mootee

Be the first to share
8 May 2017
Why service design is the new black — Intel’s Todd Harple on fashion tech
The world of fashion is becoming increasingly digital — and not just wearable devices, but with clothing made from fabrics that actually integrate sensors and technology that can monitor and measure the wearer. As fashion starts to …
28 April 2017
Global study: Leading companies bet on customer experience
A new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals that customer experience is vital for business success, and establishes social media as the foundation for customer experience. The survey, which includes 600+ leaders from the …
22 April 2017
An anthropologist in the boardroom
"It is often tempting to think that the 21st-century world is so closely integrated and digitised that the issue of culture is becoming irrelevant," writes Gillian Tett in the Financial Times. "But behind the scenes, …
22 April 2017
Boston’s human-centered research to design middle-income housing
In Boston, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is conducting ethnographic, human-centered research to design middle-income housing that reflects people’s lived experiences, reports the Stanford Social Innovation Review. This includes intensive planning sessions in …
21 April 2017
ONE Design: a portal on Adaptive Path’s work with Capital One Bank
ONE Design is a content portal where Capital One, the eighth-largest bank in the United States, shares (many) inspiring stories of how their Adaptive Path designers "impact lives with humanity, simplicity, ingenuity - and empower …
13 April 2017
How Silicon Valley is (ab)using behavioral science and nudging
In an extensive review of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, the book by Michael Lewis on the psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Tamsin Shaw provides a deeper criticism of the …
8 April 2017
Jeremy Myerson on how social challenges can catalyse design-led innovation in industry
In this recent talk at the RCA in London, writer and academic Jeremy Myerson explores how social challenges can catalyse design-led innovation in industry. Rather than seeing such issues as ageing populations, growing healthcare needs …
6 April 2017
Interview with Prof. Bill Beeman on the ways ethnography can improve business
A fertile relationship is growing between anthropology and business. Marketers are finding that anthropologists gather very useful knowledge by studying consumers in their natural habitat using the ethnographic techniques of observation and interviewing. A leader in …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

31 March 2017
Experientia guide to Milan Design Week 2017

It’s that time of year again – Milan’s don’t-miss event for the design community is here. If you’re looking to get inspired at Milan Design Week, then check out our top picks for the latest edition, from Experientia’s designers, strategists and partners. Milan might be best known for its busy streets, traditional cafés and world […]

12 January 2017
Experientia’s CITYOPT project awarded prestigious French award for its sustainable development design

Following the 2016 Smart Innovation Award at “FIMBACTE Trophées du Cadre de vie”, the CITYOPT project has once again been recognized, this time in the prestigious French design competition: “Observeur du Design 2017”, in the Service Design category. In June 2016, CITYOPT won the first stage of the Observeur du Design. Now the project has […]

1 December 2016
More on upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Last month Putting People First announced the upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities in Nice France. Meanwhile we are pleased to announce the full event agenda (see below). This event will feature professionals from leading research institutes and industry gathering to present key initiatives which combine Energy Efficiency and Service Design […]

29 October 2016
Upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Invitation to the International Conference on Design & Sustainable Innovation for SmartCities Nice (France) 8 December 2016 On the 8th December 2016, the CITYOPT project will host an international conference on Design and sustainable innovation for SmartCities, at the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, France. An open invitation to attend is offered to people and organisations who […]

28 October 2016
Experientia’s President, Michele Visciòla, panel judge for MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition

The 100&Change is an international competition and a landmark opportunity for thinkers and designers to tackle critical challenges affecting the world. Michele Visciòla will be one of the panel of expert judges who will select which project is worthy of the $100 million grant. 100&Change is the MacArthur Foundation competition – launched this year for […]

5 September 2016
Great engine, but the fuel seems poor. Discussing insight development in corporate marketing

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to “transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.” The article was written by Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed of a […]

See all articles