Insigniam, a leading international management consulting firm, hosted their 2013 Executive Summit, on May 14-15 in Philadelphia. The Summit featured a keynote session on design thinking and the culture of innovation by Roger L. Martin, Dean of Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, as well as an applied workshop in design thinking by Jeremy Utley, Director of Executive Education at the acclaimed “D-School,” Stanford University’s Institute of Design.
Martin’s keynote focused on how design thinking will be the next competitive advantage for businesses because it helps them get past the frustrating challenges of innovation in new ways. He praised Insigniam’s consulting model, saying that Insigniam’s consulting approach is to the future of business as the old model of strategy consulting was important for the past. Martin gave one of Insigniam’s founding partners, Nathan Owen Rosenberg, kudos on “the best description of design thinking [he had] ever heard.” Rosenberg based his introduction on Insigniam’s methodology for managing change, which states that design should start not just with the end in mind, but also the user.
Utley’s “boot camp” used two exercises to immerse participants in design thinking. The first was a challenge to build a tower with uncooked spaghetti, a piece of a string, and a marshmallow in a specified time. Most teams failed to find a solution. The exercise called out the problem with innovation in business—the best results do not happen when people rely on behaviors that have worked in the past. Most participants waited to put the marshmallow on the tower until the end, only to discover in the last few seconds that their design was unable to solve the challenge. Utley told Summit attendees via his Twitter feed that “the key to building a strong tower is ‘trying the marshmallow’ early, rather than assuming you know the answer and planning towards failure.” The second exercise gave participants a chance to learn the process of design thinking, including rapid and repeated prototyping.
“This year’s Summit was a fantastic success,” said Shideh Sedgh Bina, one of the founding partners of Insigniam. “The audience was so focused and engaged, and we were honored to work with Mr. Martin and Mr. Utley to help attendees have a breakthrough in the way they approach innovation and strategy in their business practices.”