Norman Lewis at TEDxLeeds

In September 2009 Manifesto co-author Norman Lewis spoke at TEDxLeeds. His presentation ‘Yes We Can: Innovating out of a recession’ considered why we need to challenge the prevailing culture of limits and risk-aversion in order to foster innovation for future wealth creation.

Yes We Can: Innovating out of a recession
View more presentations from Norman Lewis.

James Woudhuysen video interview in Computer Weekly

Manifesto co-author James Woudhuysen was interviewed about managing innovation, and BIG POTATOES, by Computer Weekly after presenting to the Computer Weekly 500 Club.

James Woudhuysen at the University of Plymouth

On 5 March 2010 Manifesto co-author James Woudhuysen spoke on BIG POTATOES at the University of Plymouth Innovation for the Creative & Cultural Industries initiative.

Big Potatoes speech, University of Plymouth, 5 March 2010 from Martyn Perks on Vimeo.

Norman Lewis speaking at Economist event

Manifesto co-author Norman Lewis is speaking at the Economist CIO Agenda in London on 9 June. Sub-titled ‘Guiding the Business into a New Era of Technology’, the CIO Agenda brings together ‘leading CIOs, experts and influential thinkers will come together for an intense morning of debate’ for which Norman will be a discussion leader. These discussions should inform the development of the Manifesto around specific industry sectors.

Event: Innovation, R&D and the General Election

Election event graphic

Despite its importance to our economic future, innovation has largely been overlooked since the credit crunch and is being largely ignored in the UK General Election.

As a remedy, the R&D Society and the authors of BIG POTATOES: The London Manifesto for Innovation, in association with Epoch, have together organised an eve-of-election event at The Royal Society in London on Tuesday 27 April. [Event announcement on the R&D Society site]

Speakers include Steven Cousins, managing director, Axon Automotive Ltd; Eliot Forster, CEO, Solace Pharmaceuticals; Norman Lewis, Chief Innovation Officer, Open-Knowledge (and BIG POTATOES co-author); Munira Mirza, advisor for arts and culture to the Mayor of London; Stefan Stern, management columnist, Financial Times; and James Wilsdon, Director of the Science Policy Centre, The Royal Society. Booking is now open.

In partnership with the R&D Society and in association with Epoch

James Woudhuysen interviewed on business models

James Woudhuysen was interview by Grant Thornton at the The Economist Redesigning Business Summit The Big Rethink in March. The two day conference, produced in conjunction with the Design Council, was aimed at ‘giving business leaders the opportunity to sample the fresh thinking needed to seize opportunities in today’s volatile world’. In the interview James notes:

I can’t get excited about business models. They distract from the much harder work of scientific and technological innovation.

[Note: The site address in the video is incorrect]

Talk: Martyn Perks: Can design save healthcare?

Can design save healthcare? from Norsk Form on Vimeo.

28 April, at DogA (the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture), Oslo, Norway. The event was sponsored by Norsk Form and the British Council in Norway

Many countries are cutting back on expensive healthcare provision. In the UK all political parties want to cut bureaucracy and target the public’s health in order to reduce demand. The recession has put preventative healthcare high on the agenda, targeting people’s ‘unhealthy’ behaviour as an unnecessary burden on limited resources.

In response many designers believe they can help reform the National Health Service. On one hand they want to redesign services around patient needs, emphasising satisfaction and service. On the other hand, they believe design can change our behaviour bringing about healthier outcomes, getting us to eat, drink or smoke less. Design ideas include the re-design of food labelling, buildings that keep us fit, or using behavioural psychology techniques to influence how we make choices.
But should design help make cutbacks that target people’s behaviour, or should it be more concerned with advances in science, technology and services that can liberate us from health problems altogether? This debate will question why governments use design, and whether all of this will end up providing us better healthcare provision?

Speakers were:

Martin Bontoft: Design strategist and researcher on user needs in design. Has previously worked for, ideo (Head of Human Factors), Design Council, National Health Service (NHS) and has long experience of service design.
Alastair Donald: Urban planner, researcher and writer with experience in public and private sectors, including as an advisor to Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) in the development of master plans.
Lavrans Løvlie: pioneer in service design since the start of live|work 2001 and director of the Nordic office in Oslo. Lavrans has developed solutions for the Orange, ONE North East and Sony Ericsson is a driving force to make use of service design in the public service development.
John-Arne Røttingen: Head of Knowledge Center, Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Health Services, a government health agency, measuring the quality of health services and helps to develop and improve the quality of health care.

James Woudhuysen on Material World (Radio 4) on scientific development and the economy

James Woudhuysen appeared on Material World (Radio 4), 29/04 with Sir Martin Taylor of the Royal Society (who oversaw its Scientific Century report) talking about whether scientific development and innovation can push the economic recovery forward. The show is repeated on Monday (03/05) at 21:00, and is also available on iPlayer and as a podcast from the above link. The show trail asks:

Can scientific development and innovation push the economic recovery forward? The authors of a new report “Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for innovation” believe so. Launched at the Royal Society the report highlights how there is currently very little debate in society about research and development. It has become socially acceptable not to know about science, argue the authors, and this change in public and political attitude is stifling economic recovery as well as limiting future innovation and therefore the creation of new industries and jobs for the future. Quentin is joined by one of the reports co-authors Professor James Woudhuysen and the former vice-president of the Royal Society, Sir Martin Taylor.

Talk: Martyn Perks: Can design change the world (and should it try)?

Thursday 13 May: Speech to BA Hons Graphic Design students, Bristol Faculty of Creative Arts, University of the West of England.

Designers are influencing change everywhere. We are told that ‘creative industries’ are a major boost to the economy; that ‘design-thinking’ is reforming the NHS; that better design can reduce consumption and protect the environment; that design research techniques can help the third world make better use of limited resources.

While it is good that designers have ambition and want to change the world, are any of these ideas big enough? Or is the influence of design rather a coincidental symptom of society’s acceptance of limits, where few leaders (or anyone else for that matter) openly argue for innovation, risk-taking and progress? Instead the prevailing trend seems to be about making do, reusing what we already have, cutting back and shunning experimentation. So any such design-led innovation appears to be less about radical change, and more about helping cutback and scale down solutions.

Is it irresponsible to want design that is radical, experimental, is risky and that can challenge the brief? Or if not, then what is design for? And why does any of this matter?

Event: Blue-skies thinking is dead: long live blue-skies thinking?

Sunday 31 October, Battle of Ideas festival, Royal College of Art, London

‘Blue-skies thinking’ has long been lampooned as management cliché, but in today’s climate of austerity, such fanciful talk can even be deemed downright irresponsible. In government, business, even in science, everyone seems obsessed with tangible outcomes, practical solutions and ideas grounded in reality. Despite universities minister David Willetts’ talk of ‘curiosity-driven research’, academics are constantly under pressure to leave their ivory towers and prove the ‘impact’ of their research. R&D has become short-termist and risk averse. Economic planning is confined to getting through the worst. Few seem interested in re-writing the future. Being too imaginative, ambitious or creative can lead to accusations of wasting precious time and resources, of being unrealistic and self-indulgent.

But might society in fact need more rather than less blue-skies thinking? As Buckminster Fuller, the twentieth century American architect and futurist who popularised the construction of Space Age geodisc domes, once said ‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete’. People like Fuller knew blue-skies thinking played an important role in inspiring future generations: it helped turn young dreamers into tomorrow’s scientists, designers, entrepreneurs and writers, and inspired many others who wanted to change the world.

If no-one is prepared to conjure up our own versions of yesterday’s flying cars, teleportation and space travel, how can we ever expect to achieve the unthinkable if we can’t even imagine it? Sceptics argue ideas are cheap and what matters is how you turn them into reality. But if we cannot let our imaginations run riot, then what we develop in the future will probably be no better than what we already know. Is the problem perhaps that too much innovation is focused on practical problem-solvers and instead we should look to the natural dreamers in the arts, to the imaginative skills of creatives? Where will our big ideas come from? Or should we postpone flights of fancy about tomorrow until we have solved today’s pressing challenges?

James Woudhuysen professor of forecasting and innovation, De Montfort University; co-author, Big Potatoes, Energise! A future for energy innovation and Why is Construction So Backward?

Professor Anthony Dunne head, Design Interactions Department, Royal College of Art

Simon Warr communications consultant; vice-president, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

Chair: Martyn Perks director, Thinking Apart; speaker and writer on design, technology and innovation; co-author Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation

In association with Jaguar Land Rover and the Royal College of Art Student Union.

Big Potatoes are the session partner.