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It’s easy to get pessimistic in this holiday season as major institutions in our lives, especially the financial institutions, break our trust. But we shouldn’t despair. I recently visited two senior design/innovation classes in Cincinnati and New York where the students were so wonderfully brilliant that my own personal gloom was lifted and replaced by hope.
I’m a Professor of Innovation and Design at The New School these days (while still blogging and working for Business Week) and dropped into a senior thesis class in Design Management/Strategy at Parsons. The presentations were excellent, especially one concept on creating a salon/spa for women undergoing chemo who lose their hair. The student really understood how these women feel, what they really experience on so many levels when they lose their hair during treatment. She researched the process of buying a wig. And she came up with an idea for a nurtured oasis for women, where they can buy the latest in fashionable hair, relax, get pampered and restored after their chemo treatments. The concept is two degrees away from VC money. Every hospital should have one—perhaps they should be away from hospitals. The insight, empathy, and creating of this student—and the potential for developing a real business off her design insights—raised my spirits.
Last week I was at DAAP, Design, Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. Craig Vogel, a wonderful innovation educator, has started the Living Well Consortium sponsored by several companies including HP and P&G. I saw student presentations and they, too, were excellent. One was a redesign of the hated hospital gown. Teams of fashion, product and business students came up with lines of gowns that allowed access to the body but also provided privacy and, well, a bit of beauty and class. There were pants for men—and women— who have issues wearing dresses with their butts hanging out and a several “lounge wear” outfits that could be sold in regular clothing stores. Again, the students understand the patients and came up with innovative ideas that could be commercialized.
Entrepreneurs and corporations alike would do well to move down the supply chain of innovation to tape into this well of student creativity.
Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.