UPFRONT Designed for better business

Just about anybody can produce widget but in world awash with ever cheaper widgets, churning out more me-too products won’t cut much market ice – hence last month’s launch of the Government’s “Better by Design” initiative.
Emerging from the 2002 Growth & Innovation Framework and kickstarted with fund allocation of $12.5 million over four years, the BBD programme aims to boost export earnings by encouraging local companies to adopt design-led approach.
That means going beyond providing well-made products (production-led), or responding to existing customer demand (market-led) by using design to create high value-added products that have specific point of difference.
Examples include Fisher & Paykel’s Dishdrawer, Formway’s “intuitive” office chair, Orca’s range of divegear and the Icebreaker brand of outdoor clothing. These and another four – sportswear specialist OBO, natural cosmetics manufacturer Living Nature, Trimax Mowing Systems and 42 Below vodka – are profiled on BBD’s website (www.betterbydesign.org.nz).
These companies have, as Icebreaker founder and BBD chair Jeremy Moon puts it, “taken an intuitive leap to create something new, uncovering latent or undiscovered need or want”.
The process can be broken down into three main phases:
* identifying the opportunity;
* designing the difference; and
* getting to market – or reaping the design dividend.
There is, says Moon, no shortage of great business ideas but shortage of high value-added exports.
“That’s where the design-led business approach comes in. It is the key to commercialising business ideas on an international scale from New Zealand. The goal is to show how smart New Zealand product and graphic design can turn ideas into products we’re proud of and into export dollars. The potential financial returns are enormous and it’s an exciting project for those in New Zealand business who rise to the challenge.”
The programme includes communication, education and toolbox of practical assistance such as the provision of design audit, design mentoring and funding of up to $100K for design-led project.
This will be launched at “business bootcamp” conference in March next year – an invitation-only event tailored to the CEOs and senior executives of companies on the brink of achieving export success.
It will feature speakers such as design maven Tim Brown, CEO of world-leading design agency IDEO, and business guru Tom Peters who says “nothing is more important to enterprises than unadorned, unabashed fanaticism about design”. More information on www.betterbydesign.org.nz

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