Neel Kashkari Talks About Design When Talking About Fixing the Economy

Posted by: Reena Jana on October 13, 2008

Reading Nelson D. Schwartz’s NY Times story today on European central banks’ coming to the rescue, I couldn’t help but notice the very specific language that Neel Kashkari, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability, used to discuss how the current plan to help the economy get back on track. That language was the language of design.

As he told the Times, “Our toolkit is being designed to help financial institutions of all sizes so they can grow stronger and provide crucial funding to our economy…We will complete the design of these tools and deploy them as soon as they are ready.”

And the suggestion of applying so-called “design-thinking” to addressing the financial crisis is best illustrated by the fact that governments and banks alike are all clearly coming up with prototypes and iterating quickly, much as industrial designers and engineers do when developing new concepts. Not to mention collaborating and creating outside partnerships to speed the process, an open-innovation process that is used by many designers. The rally on Wall Street this afternoon shows that the approach seems to be working.

Reader Comments

steve baker

October 14, 2008 12:26 PM

Reena, interesting point. The financial tools currently being designed could make a difference of literally tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars. But even if they're successful, Wall Street won't know about it for many months.

Kristian Bluff

October 15, 2008 2:21 PM

On the one hand I'm tempted to applaud Schwatz's use of design thinking as a tool for combating the crisis. On the other hand I shaking my head in disbelief as the tool kit is in the hands of novices who have very little previous training. This comes across loud and clear when Schwartz is quoted in the Times as saying "Our toolkit is being designed to help financial institutions of all sizes..." A one size fits solution all, is not the answer. A well designed solution must address the needs and unmets needs of the end-users. In this instance there are many users at different levels. So there is a high risk that the prototypes will be manufactured and launched into markets that require a totally different solution.

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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