Challenging Innovative Thinking among Design Students through “Cultural” Goal Finding in the Fuzzy-Front-End
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Liem, Andre
Section: Creativity in Design Education
Within the context of integrated product development, the level of innovative success in formulating an effective product strategy and a design goal is highly dependent on how thorough ”Product Planning and Goal Finding” processes were carried out. The conventional approach of conducting external analysis focuses mainly on market, competitor’s and stakeholder’s analysis has seldom led to radical innovation / diversification. To achieve diversification, which is the highest level of innovation leading to breakthrough products, requires a more comprehensive and exploratory strategic design approach. This paper discusses how 1st year MSc. design students collaborated in pairs to comprehend an “External Analysis Assignment” (EAA) driven by social, political and economic perspectives and supported by a cultural understanding of societies and regions. According to Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions, extreme trends and developments in nations´ political, economical and social situation were taken as a source of reference for the EAA.. As social, political and economical developments in a society are difficult to change overnight, results from the EAA’s have illustrated the potential role of design in improving the negative extremities of these developments through innovative concepts.
The results of all the EAA’s were summarised and analysed on the basis of “Context”, where all case studies illustrated a clear contradiction based on cultural differences. The “Cultural Explanation” shared more in-depth knowledge on how these cultural differences affected society and human interaction from an economic and political perspective. The cultural dimensions were clustered according to “Large Power Distance – Masculine – Individual” versus “Small Power Distance – feminine – Collective” and positioned on the extremities of a bi-polar scale. All “Design Problems” described a need for improvement from one nation´s contextual perspective in the direction of the opposing nation´s political, social or economical state on the bi-polar axes. The “Design Concepts” were a natural progression of the design problem. However not all solutions could be classified as radical. A bottom-up consolidation and analysis of the EAA’s resulted in the six (6) categories, which can function as a guide for future external analysis and goal finding. These categories are:
• Healthcare and elderly care
• Working and living
• Education and manpower development
• Purchase of food, products and services
• Mobility /Transportation of goods and people
• Interaction and Communication
Referenced to Maslow´s Hierarchy of Needs, the six categories can be classified under the first three level of needs of the pyramid; Physiological, Safety, Love / Belonging. This indicates that a cultural approach towards External Analysis and Goal Finding in the Fuzzy-Front-End can be instrumental in the generation of innovative system and concepts to improve quality of life and service in developing as well as developed nation. However, not all student pairs were critical in identifying a topic where design can leverage a strong impact from a social, economic or political perspective.