Patrick Whitney

Closing & Future Note – Design in the Economy of Choice

Thursday, October 8th

16:15 - 17:00

Key Learnings

  • Power Shift From Producers to Users
  • New Role of Design
  • New Competencies needed by Design


Organizations in the 20th Century were driven by the forces of an economy of scale. Businesses with the largest and most efficient capabilities for production and delivery won the largest markets. To mitigate the risk of investing in big factories, extensive distribution channels and multi-channel media networks, leaders in companies and academia created frameworks to help predict their future. Examples are standards such as demographic profiles, market segmentation, consumer insight research, economic forecasting.

As consumers filled their lives with products unimagined by previous generations, companies created ways to make their industrial age systems create more variety, causing SKU pollution that make complex companies, confused consumers, and a strained planet. Executives still use the predictive frameworks of the 20th Century even though they are facing 21st Century problems that can be characterized as fast changing, have multiple variables and call for rapid response rather than long-term prediction.

Until we create responsive ways of addressing the challenges of today, our businesses, governments and civic institutions will continue to be out of synch with how people live, work and play. This presentation will show examples of frameworks and methods that fit the economy of choice in which we now live.

Thursday, October 8th

16:15 - 17:00

Patrick Whitney

Dean of the Institute of Design - Illinois Institute of Technology

Patrick Whitney is the Dean of the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, and is the Steelcase/Robert C. Pew Professor of Design. Professor Whitney has published and lectured throughout the world about ways of making technological innovations more humane, the link between design and business strategy, and methods of designing interactive communications and products. His writing is generally about new frameworks of design that respond to three transformations: linking insights about user experience to business strategy, the shift from mass-production to flexible production, and the shift from national markets to markets that are both global and “markets of one.” Whitney’s consulting focuses on helping a company adopt methods that develop insights about customer experience and align them with the company’s strategy. He conducts executive workshops for numerous corporations and organizations. These have included Aetna, BP, Lenovo, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Steelcase, Texas Instruments, Zebra Technologies, and departments of the governments of Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and the UK. Business Week has featured professor Whitney as a ‘design visionary’ for bringing together design and business, Forbes named him as one of six members of the ‘E-Gang’ for his work in human centered design, and Fast Company has identified him as a ‘master of design’ for his leadership in the design field of linking the creation of value for users and economic value for companies. In addition to speaking at major design conferences throughout the world, he speaks at conferences on public policy and other fields outside of design. These include China Daily’s CEO Summits, executive briefings to the Confederation of Indian Industries, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, the 50th anniversary of the Aspen Institute, and the TED conference. He is the principal investigator of several research projects at the Institute of Design, including Global Companies in Local Markets, Design for the Base of the Pyramid, and Schools in the Digital Age. His work has received support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Steelcase Foundation and numerous corporations.

Whitney has been on the jury of many award programs, including the U.S. Presidential Design Awards. He was a member of the White House Council on Design. In 1978 he was program chairman for the first major meeting addressing design evaluation from the user’s perspective at the U.S. Conference of the International Council on Graphic Design Associations (ICOGRADA). Professor Whitney was president of the American Center for Design (ACD) and served as editor of Design Journal, its annual publication. He is on several advisory boards in the U.S. and abroad and is a trustee of the Global Heritage Fund.


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