Valerie K C – Founder, Designer Accord @ Indialogues, India’s TED

Valerie K C founder Designer Accord at Indialogues
Valerie K C founder Designer Accord at Indialogues

Valerie Casey speaks globally on systems thinking, cultural change, and sustainability, and is an Adjunct Professor in the graduate design program at CCA. She holds a master’s degree in cultural theory and design from Yale University and a BA from Swarthmore College.

As a consultant with companies, start-ups, and governments all over the world, she works on challenges ranging from creating new products and services, to transforming organizational processes and leaders like Microsoft, Samsung, Cisco, and Johnson & Johnson, among others, have sought out her expertise to tackle their design and innovation challenges. Before starting her own practice, Casey held executive leadership positions at the most respected design companies in the world.

Casey is the founder of the Designers Accord based in Cleveland ,OH, the global design coalition of designers, educators, and business leaders focused on creating positive social and environmental impact, founded in 2007, and through her leadership, it has grown to be one of the most influential organizations in the design world.

As globally recognized designer and innovator, she was named a “Guru” of the year by Fortune magazine, a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine, and a “Master of Design” by Fast Company. She was also selected as one of the “World’s Most Influential Designers” by Businessweek, and named a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum.

Twenty years ago, I came to India by ship! This time I am having the next dinner in India.

I am a designer – and love to make use of common things like cell phone, software, food for a better world.

For example, designing a diaper for toilet training. Potty training – sensor that tingles the child when the child will start wetting diaper; It started me thinking what we need to do to use our craft; Disposable diapers take 500 years, sensor will create toxic output. These are the questions that came to my mind.

In 2007, I started a global coalition that works for a better world, called Designers Accord – DA. It struck a chord. Several 100 thousand designers from across the country participate in the designer accord. It is counter-intuitive. It is trying to help people to collaborate, trust, asking for help. Encourage –

–         Dialogue

–         Leveraging the capabilities of members to solve challenges

The guiding principles are –

  1. Individual responsibility – educating on sustainability
  2. Educating people about sustainability for co-creation and collaboration

My journey with Designer Accord has given me five most important learnings –

Learning 1: 21st century challenges will not be solved with 20th century models.

–         What materials to use for greener products? We feel the discussions are narrow to begin with. The wealth accumulation and distortion… An alternative view of the world (wealth map). This cannot continue

Learning 2: Creativity is powerful (and it makes people really nervous)

–         CIO survey that happens every year by IBM, 1500 CEOs from across 67 countries

a.       Creativity is the most important thing that is needed in navigating the current world

  1. Bias against creativity has emerged in the last few years
  2. People thinking out-of-box are actually maligned, passed over for promotions
  3. Bias against creativity is very similar to racist and feminist;

Learning 3: complex problems are solved by networks and not people

955mn people around the world go hungry; while 40% of food is wasted while the food production is being asked to be increased by 50% to meet the challenges

a.       Restaurants, super markets and homes in developed world

b.      Developing countries – harvesting to moving for safer places is a challenge

c.       It is about agri policy, water, retention;

           All these at the heart of these challenges

Learning 4: Everything exists within a system

o       We need to have deep appreciation for the systems orientation

o       There is a consequence for every thing we do and every thing we do not do

o       That is not my responsibility or I am not responsible for… every thing we do has impact

Learning 5: Think differently

  • Water pump goes like a merry go round… we need water pumps.. it is one of the biggest failures..
  • When we focus on needs that are needed we may miss the opportunities
  • The great disruption

Every industry is going through transtion.

  • Products ————————–> services
  • Fiscal cycle ———————> Then new normal
  • Formal Education ————-> Socially created knowledge
  • Mobile phones ——————> Mobile internet
  • Individual purchase ————> collaborative consumption

A fascinating document that is internal one, whole DNA of Apple.. ..

–         Deeply empathetic

–         Focussed – edit out all other things, to deliver that one thing flawlessly

–         Branding – flawlessly, precisely,

Perceptions and reality are one and the same…

Our problem is usually operationalizing the ideas. How do we put the ideas in action and scale them. We should not depend on government funding. That age is over. It is completely the process thing. It is the least sexy things. It is all about systems

Does it make sense to push the R&D? No correlation between investment in R&D and innovation. We need to focus on giving simple tools to bring about simple solutions

Education and arts are same. Why are they not same? A while ago I heard the argument -one to the brain and one to the heart. It is a flawed one.

We need better choice architecture – We need to have ways to find solutions and resolve issues in a sustainable manner.

Choice architecture necessitates ownership. We need to make it participatory – Individual consumption to societal trends – You need to show off, that is the mindset

China has jumped from 7th largest economy in the world to 2nd economy. China has 10% luxury goods consumed in the world. Where are they coming from?

DA: Can we include buyers of designs..

We thought of phasing DA out by 5 years. Since it may not be relevant any more. It will be changing. Museum accord and travel accord have happened from DA. It is a network, away from the public view.

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