Creative thinking and doing in a complex business

Design meets aviation by Design Management Network (DMN) and TU Delft IDE, October 24th 2017, Kazerne, Eindhoven

More than 80 professionals from the aviation industry, creative industry and research/education gathered during the Dutch Design Week together in the DMN event ‘Design Meets Aviation’. De Kazerne, one of the hotspots during this week, saw people from big corporates, suppliers, digital and design studios and universities/colleges meet, interact and enjoying a relevant and interactive afternoon.

Martijn Paulen, director of the Dutch Design Week, opened the event: ‘I’m really happy to have you all here around such a theme and during this week on this location: clients, designers, creative strategist and researchers’. Martijn continued: ‘be open, be curious and – I would like to emphasize – take the opportunity to meet and interact across disciplines. And even when this will hurt a little bit and forces you out of your comfort zone, it pays off.’ True innovation starts where new ways of thinking, doing and cooperation are arising, he argued, also referring to the theme of this years’ Dutch Design Week: ‘stretch’.

Pieter Aarts and Christine De Lille kicked off the event as curators. Pieter took the business perspective in which innovation, design thinking and a focus on UX and CX are far more common issues in the board rooms: ‘brands and organizations needs to adapt better and more adequate to change in the context. The use of creativity and creative resources, methods and tools are therefore needed, and that’s exactly where boards and management are struggling with’. Christine presented a clear overview of the use and development of design in the last 20 years in which design becomes more and more strategic. That means that designers should be able to work successfully on a C-level, increasing their impact in organizations. It’s different from designing a product, a service or interface, when you will be responsible to (re)think and design systems.

Next was the keynote from the industry. KLM’s Sander Stomph gave a very relevant and interesting insight into the recent KLM way of ‘design doing’. KLM has embraced co-creation and design thinking and dares to implement and test it into their daily operations. Quick and sometimes radical improvements are developed in design sprints on topics such as digitalization, customer centricity, smart boarding and ground operations. ‘It’s about using end-users and stakeholders in an early stage, getting the right insights as soon as possible, use them and build upon that.’ The cooperation with TU Delft IDE helps KLM to build capacities but also to change the internal culture and organization. Sander: ‘we just started, but the first results are quite impressive and convincing, also in business terms, ‘rethinking’ and ‘redesigning’ really pays off.’

Then it was up to the 80+ attendees. In four tracks, they started to interact on four themes: up in the air, digital, on the ground and baggage. With chairs and experts, they dove into the (near) future, discussed and envisioned on a canvas where design can make a difference, and design can add value to innovation. After 90 minutes, each track presented their results to the crowd. However different in subject the general findings were quite similar: make customer journeys and experiences more seamless, reduce complexity in systems, organizations and processes, and humanize technology. And – above all – create and deliver maximum value in the customer experience, as well as in the experience of stakeholders and staff.

Professor Jeroen van Erp (TU Delft IDE and Fabrique) did the wrap-up, together with Christine De Lille. Jeroen agreed with the general findings but was surprised that circularity and sustainable design seemed to be missed out at all. Then he emphasized the importance of being here together with all these different disciplines, groups and backgrounds. ‘The reality is so complex that it is simply necessary to stretch the span of control and the span of impact of our joint efforts. You can’t fix this kind of complexity only with clients and designers any more, you need all stakeholders aboard, even if this is challenging in culture and methodology’. Jeroen referred to Schiphol where the customer experience is depending on not only Schiphol and airlines such as KLM, but also on different contractors and institutions (safety, customs, retail, handling, etc.). ‘Orchestrating such a diverse collaboration and keep a clear focus on UX/CX is probably the true challenge.’ Christine added: ‘a sector such as this shows that traditional ways of designing and working as designers with clients will have limits, so it’s up to the creative industry as well to innovate themselves’.

During the network drinks, attendees were enthusiastic about the format. ‘It’s great to meet people from these three backgrounds in person, working together and thinking together, getting to know a bit of our different ways to look at the world.’ (KLM)  ‘As designers we really need to have a better understanding of the complexity of our clients’ context, act upon that, and an event such as this will help us to do just that.’ (IN10). ‘Design-research is more and more applied in daily life and in agile ways of working, so we need to develop methods and skills to do that much better and efficient.’ (Design Academy).

DMN and TU Delft IDE will organize a follow-up in a smaller setting in the spring of 2018. Next Dutch Design Week (October 2018) we will organize another ‘design meets industry’ event around the topic of Retail.

Many thanks to Jeroen van Erp, Sander Stomph, Martijn Paulen, the chairs (Suzanne Hoemstra-van Mastrigt, Barend Klitsie, Katinka Bergema, Joyce Bouwens and Shabila Anjani), the industry/design experts (Ron Verweij, Roelof Lammers, Robert Ehrencron, Jyh-I Shen, Yorick Buys, Robbert Dijkstra, Gesina Roters, Henk Haaima, Aad Kalkman, Fred Inklaar), the TU IDE student staff (Roxanne van Rijn, Max Davidse, Tess Poot, Iris Chung, Marcello Risolo, Jasper van Hijfte, Sanne van Heuveln, Nienke Nijholt, Tyrtza Hogewoning, André Morreira Dias, Anna Jonkmans), Rebecca Price and Matthijs Netten.

The slides of the event:

Photos of the event:

The Design Doing project by KLM and TU Delft IDE:

verslag en foto’s: Pieter Aarts