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I am glad that this conference is about innovation and design and not innovation and finance. The last time that finance and innovation got together, we got the sub-prime crisis and the monetary mess that the world is still struggling to get out of!





But innovation and design is a different story altogether. They are siblings from the same family. While design deals with the 'what', it brings purpose by examining 'who' it is for and 'why'. Why do we need what we need? Therefore, in the creation of the 'what', innovation or 'how' is a perfect fit in achieving the target with minimal and available resources.

It was the absence of fresh design thinking in the government's initiative of starting four new national institutes of design; in fact, the clubbing of educational values and procedures with the architectural tender that led to the wide online protests, discussions and debates and the Vision First movement that emerged.

The Vision First movement gained strength and momentum with the favourable response and support that we received from Mr Sam Pitroda and his office.

When Mr Pitroda gave out a call for proposals for setting up twenty new design innovation centres, Vision first responded with a spate of proposals. While full details of each proposal is available on our website, www.visionfirst.in, I provide a brief outline of each of these proposals here. And for the rest of my presentation, I shall dwell on the thinking behind one of these proposals as it is in the spirit of our discussions here.

When the very nature of design itself is transforming from industry centred objectives to a wholesome improvement of life, here is one approach that could help bring about a qualitative transformation.

Plan D

Plan D Dinesh Korjan . June 2012

Dinesh Korjan . June 2012

Is about looking for design solutions ...

Even when they are not conventional design problems.

Imagine. Transforming the country's school education system from its focus on 'rote' learning to 'real' education…

Today the entire school machinery is geared to help the student score well in the exam irrespective of whether there has been real learning or not. How do you develop your thinking when all you have to do is choose from ready made answers?

Retrain the entire teacher fraternity? Build a separate set of model schools? Start new training schools for teachers? Allow coaching classes to take the initiative?

But what if we re-designed the exam itself? Maybe, open book exams that tested real learning instead of what is in the books.

The machinery should re-gear itself to provide real learning? What they were supposed to do in the first place?

Imagine. Solving the ticket less travel problem in Mumbai local trains.

I am told, the losses incurred by the suburban railway network in Mumbai is to the tune of around 8 lacs (unverified figure) a day due to ticket less travel.

How should one tackle this? Prescribe severe punishment? Increase checking points and frequency? Reduce bottlenecks in ticket purchase?

How about re-designing the ticket? - What if every ticket is also a lottery ticket?

(The compliance level could far exceed the prize money. Passengers might even buy more than one ticket :)

Developed in class with students of SDM, NID during Systems Thinking / Design Course from 12 July – 02 Aug. 2010.

- Maybe the ticket could become a contact point for seekers and providers of low end services like household help, plumber, electrician etc. with low cost advertising.

Any such solution would not only increase compliance in ticket purchase but would also more than recover the ticket production costs! Power of Design?

Developed in class with students of SDM, NID during Systems Thinking / Design Course from 12 July – 02 Aug. 2010.

Simplification? Or an understanding of the power of Design?

A design solution most of the time is a tangible creation or re- creation. Even when it is a service or experience or process there is a perceptible 'difference' that is new or was not there before.

But this new entity has the potential to re-arrange the interconnections within a complex situation in such a way that there is a transformation of the situation itself without undue pressure on reforming people, policing them, re-creating new systems altogether and so on.

'Seek To Reform The Environment, Not Man'. The function of what I call design science is to solve problems by introducing into the environment new artifacts, the availability of which will induce their spontaneous employment by humans and thus, coincidentally, cause humans to abandon their previous problem-producing behaviors and devices.

- Buckminster Fuller

Design, practised at the systemic level, could throw up the most cost effective of solutions to large complex problems.

problem problem problem



knowledge flow

lab revenue knowledge flow school expertise revenue
lab revenue knowledge flow school expertise revenue



lab revenue knowledge flow school expertise revenue




D.Complex is a proposal for Instituting a Design Lab cum School for Research, Practice and Propagation of design solutions for complex problems.

The lab would engage with real problems and would therefore be the hub for knowledge creation and the school would be the centre for dissemination of this knowledge.

This would ensure that there are multiple revenue streams (payments from stakeholders of complex problems and fees from students) to ensure sustainability of the centre.

The centre would create opportunities for post graduate students as well as, research fellows as the emphasis would be on developing capabilities to deal with uncertainties, think out of the box, collaborate with other domain experts, model and visualise complex problems to develop a better understanding, visualise scenarios for solutions, develop understanding of complex problems, to identify leverage points for design intervention and so on.

Next step. To find a host institution / partner to help set up this centre.