A virtual event this year, with palpable energy and engagement from those who logged on for registration and networking from 8am, before the morning Symposium kicked off at 8.30 with 6 international speakers.
The focus of the conference was on reimagining the future, building the new, as design leaders took time to reflect, to rethink and identify opportunities to reimagine a brighter future.
Retail futurist Matthew Brown took us on a world tour highlighting the acceleration in retail innovation since the lockdown as we move from e-commerce to d-commerce with most retail activity now happening on digital platforms and technological advancements enabling consumer experience to deliver even more surprise and delight, with images of the KitKat Chocolatory making our mouths water. While the long predicted retail apocalypse is now very real from a bricks and mortar perspective, in the world of clicks it is an innovation hotbed for designers with the acceleration of digital trends. The future of retail and hospitality is certainly very bright.
Much of what has served us well in the past is no longer fit for purpose, and the disruption we are now experiencing is forcing us to rethink our belief systems and many of our models for operating. So many of our systems for organising are optimised for ways of working that are no longer fit for purpose, and Christopher Ireland highlighted how the historic finance-led models of business are now giving way to more creative and design led business models, with an increasing need for design leadership.
The workplace challenges of the future were highlighted by talent development specialists Russell Beck, who highlighted the key roles that purpose and belonging will play in engaging talent, and offered tools and practical know that can be easily implemented by employers and team leads. The talk resonated deeply with the audience, and almost 60 participants returned after lunch to join Russel’s workshop.
Experienced Design Director Kim Mueller brought us through the fascinating ethnographic research conducted by McKinsey during the first few weeks of the Covid-19, and sharing key insights for future business development – catch her talk here.
Win Without Pitching founder Blair Enns compared the shock effect of the Covid pandemic to an “incredible constraint driven exercise” in creativity and innovation for firms, and generously shared tools on pricing strategies in turbulent times.
Astrid Stavro of Pentagram, provided inspiring soul food for design leaders, revealing her cultural appetite to the spellbound conference attendees. After talking about her current reading list which includes a biography on Susan Sontag and a book about bees, as well as many podcasts on design and other topics, Stavro finished the Design Leaders Conference morning session on just the right note on the first day of a level 5 lockdown “Good luck with the lockdown, you’ve got a lot of homework to do!”
The latter part of the day welcomed back 60+ attendees who joined Matthew Brown and Russell Beck for workshops on creative strategies, and exploring the impact of sleep on creativity and productivity.
The highlight of the afternoon was over 100 attendees rejoining us for the Sustainability in Design Panel, hosted by Charlotte Barker, CEO of IDI. What this space for more on this important item firmly on our agenda for 2021.
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