Markets and Innovation


Caption: Ed Rusha’s Arrow: an elegant and laconic way to express a world’s principle. A Good Design Manager should look at the highpoint of the arrow, the brand new.

Innovation has been defined as ‘the successful exploitation of new ideas’ orientated into an actual social impact able to provide a sought future state. It can be a product, a structure, a process and a concept as well. Design shapes new ideas to become possible and attractive for users and consumer, as a result, the influence of the creative industries is becoming more and more decisive for the global economy, with more than £50 billion to invest every year, with an average of 30% in Asia, Europe and North America of global CCI Revenues and jobs.

Greek philosopher Parmenides in V century made considerations about the importance of a multiple perspective and crossing boundaries in order to gain a wide and general acknowledgment. Studies indicate that this whole-minded aptitude is generated by the right hemisphere of our brain, which is particularly good at synthesis. An emphazis of the qualities of right-brain thinking has been made by Betty Edwards , and this is actually is a pivotal characteristic of most designers and creators. As a consequence, it is not surprising that design is one of the most powerful vehicles for innovation, due to its inclination of solving problems, discovering opportunities, and creating new products and values, led by imagination, empathy and innovation.

Nowadays significant changes into society, an increased level of acknowledgment and self-awareness and a growing environmental emergency have made innovation focus on sustainability, industrial ecology, renewable energy, green chemistry and nanotechnology, all from a human perspective. In fact, the design manager’s activity is strictly related to innovation, as well as to leadership. Key aspects of a leader are a mission with objectives, a strategy, a proactive and pioneering attitude and a vision.  This last point has been criticized in her TED talk by Harvard Professor Linda Hill where she wittily explains how the leader role should consist in setting the stage, as a social architect, and not performing on that. In her opinion ‘leading innovation is not creating a vision, but creating the space where people are willing to and able to do the hard work of innovative problem solving’.

In any case, it would seem that the future belongs to creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers, according to Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mind’, 2006. Our economy and society are heading to the ‘Conceptual Age’, built on the inventive and big-picture capabilities. Mat Hunter, Director of IDEO Europe suggested that innovation is ’not just a process, but also a culture’. Since environmental pressures require adaptive strategies, the good innovator should have the ability of establishing connections, investigating market’s behavior, and constructing interactive experiences between people of different areas and backgrounds.


Best, K.(2008) Design management: managing design strategy, process and implementation. Lausanne: AVA Books.

Edwards, B(1979) Drawing on the right side of the brain. Penguin Putnam.

Hill, L.(2014) How to manage for collective creativity. Available at:

Pink H.,D.(2006) A whole new mind: how to thrive in the new conceptual age. London: Cyan Books.


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