On the last day of 2008, Bruce Nussbaum in Business Week:
“Innovation” died in 2008…
He couldn’t start the new year more…well, wrong.
It reminds me of a client in London who approached me after a presentation I gave to his holding company at the dawn of the commercial WWW in 1998. He asked, “How can I make money on the Internet?” It was at once a breathtakingly open-ended question for a new platform so pregnant with myriad possibilities. And so demoralizingly foreclosing in its shortsightedness. After a minute of resignation, I remember answering, “The same way you make money on the telephone.”
A decade later in 2008, the WWW — the “Information Superhighway” to be more precise — is indeed dead. Like all good things, it’s been absorbed to become an essential part of commerce, and indeed our daily lives.
Did “‘Design’ die in 2006” so that “Design Thinking” Nussbaum has since been promoting could be born? Will “‘Transformation’ die in 2010” so that design bureaucracy can manufacture another buzzphrase, maybe “Reformation”? When the pendulum makes its way back, will it be “Restoration” in 2015?
Nussbaum either doesn’t quite understand the root causes of our “current” demise or is purposely distorting the meaning of “innovation” to make an otherwise improbable distinction. Take, for example, his characterization that “indeed, financial innovation was to large degree responsible for the economic trainwreck.”
The evidences of financial engineering which Nussbaum is apparently referring to, like complex derivates, lending without risk analysis, overly aggressive levering, opaque securitization, various Ponzi schemes, etc., are not instances of “innovation” as much as they remain either illegal or unethical.
How can anyone characterize as “innovation” originating arbitrary amounts of loans without verification or risk analysis simply because the originator will no longer be on the hook once an individual loan is bundled with other assets to be securitized and sold to others? Is avoidance of inevitable defaults on payment through securitization “innovation”? Only if you must come up with another buzzword for a new year to hang your hat on. “Transformation” indeed.
Who said this at the very end of 2005?
The design profession may be indulging in a navel-gazing exercise of immense proportions that is important to no one but designers. You folks are wasting a lot of time.
So by this time you might be wondering just what’s wrong with plain old “Design”? Why does it always need to be qualified with another buzzword of the year?
Innovation is a term too aligned with big business and corporations. But as a design advocate who fought for years to get designers to get over themselves and their obsession with framing their profession in terms of art, I can’t help but feel haplass in this debate. Just when victory is near, when design is finally being accepted for what it can do, people are denying its power, whining about the nomenclature and clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Yes, that too is from Nussbaum.
I could go on. Innovation or transformation, Design speaks for itself. It will in 2009, too.