Good morning from Singapore (where it is now evening.)
One of the striking things about the discussions here at Brainstorm Design over the last three days is how frequently they have turned to the same topic that underlies so many discussions at our annual Brainstorm Tech event in Aspen—corporate culture. The über-question that permeates both goes something like this:
In a world of rapidly accelerating change, where technology threatens to remake almost every aspect of every company in every industry, how do large corporations, built for predictability and stability, adapt and innovate fast enough to survive and thrive?
Technology is the driving force behind that change and uncertainty, but design is emerging as a means of addressing that change and uncertainty. “Design thinking,” first popularized by consulting firm Ideo and Stanford’s “d.school,” is increasingly taking hold in companies as a means of driving culture change and innovation. “Managing is about making decisions,” explained Christian Bason of the Danish Design Center, but design “is about creating the options to make decisions about.”
Phil Gilbert, who heads design at IBM, put it this way: “Beautiful products and experiences are why companies dabbled in design initially, but it didn’t stick. What we are finding now is design’s ability to tame more potent fractures (in large organizations)…. So many people have to be involved throughout the development of any new product and service, and there is a systemic need for speed and decision-making at speed. There is no other system, other than the design process, that deals with that chaos.”
You can read more about Brainstorm Design here. We’ll be returning to Singapore next year to continue the discussion. I would recommend it to anyone struggling with the process of creative innovation—which these days is just about everyone in business.
News below. And thanks to all those careful readers who noticed yesterday’s typo. The tax cut was $1.5 trillion.
President Donald Trump will reportedly press on with his steel and aluminum tariffs as soon as today, albeit with an exemption for Canada and Mexico that is effective from the outset, but conditional on the two countries successfully concluding a NAFTA renegotiation. The White House seems to be ignoring pleas from many Republican politicians and industrialists (such as Charles Koch) to avoid broad tariffs, which seem likely to spark an international trade war. Wall Street Journal
The European Central Bank will shortly announce its latest rate decision, and ECB President Mario Draghi is expected to lay out a cautious approach, given the widespread uncertainty that’s out there right now. European markets also started the day on the cautious side, ahead of the decision—and ahead of that anticipated Trump move on tariffs. CNBC
The illness of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, found unconscious on a bench in England on Sunday, was indeed caused by poisoning. It seems someone targeted them with a nerve agent, which also affected a policeman on the scene. The British government has said it is ready to act once the culprit is identified. All eyes are on Russia here, as Skripal had spied on the country on behalf of the British. Bloomberg
Microsoft Rethinks “S”
Microsoft is to stop selling Windows 10 S, a special version of its operating system that is intended for schools, as a separate product. It will instead start selling regular versions of Windows 10 that have an optional “S” mode. Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome; a stripped-down version of the OS with limited functionality and, the company promised, more reliable performance. It was only launched less than a year ago. There was full-fat Windows hiding in there, but it required a $50 fee for unlocking. BGR
Around the Water Cooler
Women across Spain are marking International Women’s Day with a mass 24-hour strike, under the slogan, “If we stop, the world stops.” Hundreds of trains have been cancelled and there’s widespread disruption to Madrid’s underground network. The strike has widespread popular support, with more than three-quarters of Spaniards polled agreeing that women have it tougher than men. Some politicians are backing it, too. However, the ruling PP party said the strike was “for feminist elites and not real women with everyday problems.” BBC
Mains-connected clocks across continental Europe fell behind by as much as six minutes over the last couple of months because of a drop in the frequency of the region’s interconnected power grid. Why did this happen? Because the north of Kosovo, which remains loyal to Serbia, isn’t paying for its electricity. With underfunded, shaky energy production in Kosovo, the country was taking more out of the grid than it was putting in, leading to an imbalance. Fortune
Japan wants to build a new, advanced fighter jet based on existing Western designs, and is asking the U.S. and Europe to help. The project to build the F-3 fighter is expected to cost around $40 billion. “Boeing is very interested in working with the U.S. and Japan governments in order to collaborate with Japanese industry on the next fighter program,” Boeing said. Japan is also buying Lockheed Martin’s F-35 in order to modernize its air defenses. Reuters
The actors Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson have followed the lead of Oscar-winner Frances McDormand in supporting the idea of an “inclusion rider” for their projects. Jordan said he was committed to including such a rider, demanding diversity in movies’ cast and crew, in the contracts issued by his Outlier Society production company. Larson also tweeted that she was committed to the same. BBC