The Power of Transformation Design.

June 7, 2013 - 2 minutes read

Transformation Design builds on traditional design skills to address our most pressing social and economic issues placing the individual at the heart of new solutions.

In the mid 2000s, the British Design Council founded RED, a think tank that explored „thinking and practice on social and economic problems through design innovation.” The group created the foundation of a new design discipline– Transformation Design– built to cater a world that was going to change even faster than in past generations:

“Because organisations now operate in an environment of constant change, the challenge is not how to design a response to a current issue, but how to design a means of continually responding, adapting and innovating. Transformation design seeks to leave behind not only the shape of a new solution, but the tools, skills and organisational capacity for ongoing change.”
RED Paper 02: Transformation Design

The RED Team,led by Hillary Cottam, quickly realised that companies and public bodies are increasingly faced with “more and more complex and ambiguous issues.” We live in an Age of Transformation. Today, every organization, every corporation should figure out whether they want to play an active part within this transformational age or whether they just seek to administer their business as it is.

Take a step aside and look at your own organization: which state is it in, actually? Is it a state of contentment and stability or in a process of change? Is there confusion caused by the rapidly changing world outside –or even fear of the loss of familiarity and the customary?

Contrary to traditional business consultancies, Transformation Designers support organizations to build up innovation capabilities from the inside. The paradigm that men-in-suits invade and plough up an organization has shifted to a participatory approach acknowledging that expertise does not only reside at the top of the organisation.

Be warned– Transformation Design projects tend to aim high: they seek to fundamentally transform a public system or a company’s culture for the better. But this may be only adequate in a world that sees major industries forced to reinvent themselves. Wouldn’t it be great, if your corporation were pro-active instead of reactive?