Peter Drucker Forum 2013: “Design for Complexity” by Tim Brown

brown cover

At the Peter Drucker Forum 2013 in Vienna, Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO argued that they have taken the same approach to design for hundreds and thousands of years. However, with increasing urbanization, the implementation of the design became ever more difficult due to the increasingly complex structures. Most businesses can be compared to cities- so how do we shape them?


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Isaac Newton believed that if we had a perfect knowledge of the past we could understand the future. Charles Darwin took on a different view, the more he studied nature and realized how complex it is. Therefore, We can freeze some aspects of the design of the past to understand the world but will only manage to understand parts of it.


Who is the designer?

tim brown

Tim Brown talks about Design for Complexity.

The ideal designer is no longer one top down figure but the influence has been shifted to everyone in a company. Therefore, we need to give people the opportunity to make a contribution and develop the mindset of design by taking away the fear of failure. In order to achieve this we also need to increase the creative confidence in our organizations and develop a cultural code for innovation.

From centralized control to peer networks

We are witnessing the creation of democratized networks in all parts of the world including in design. Examples of this evolution are: Pinterest which grants common access to professional design tools, IDEO which has an open design platform and takes contributions from 50 000 people or Local Motors which uses a crowd sourced design methodology to design new cars for a local market and does it in a fraction of the time.

The evolution can be seen as follows:

  • 19th century  industry
  • 20th century consumer
  • 21st century creator economy

→ We will all have a role in the creation of new products, ideas and services.


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browtim_170pxTim Brown

CEO and president of IDEO

Tim Brown is CEO and president of IDEO. He frequently speaks about the value of design thinking and innovation to business people and designers around the world. He participates in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and his talks Serious Play and Change by Design appear on

An industrial designer by training, Tim has earned numerous design awards and has exhibited work at the Axis Gallery in Tokyo, the Design Museum in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He takes special interest in the convergence of technology and the arts, as well as the ways in which design can be used to promote the well-being of people living in emerging economies.

Tim advises senior executives and boards of Fortune 100 companies and has led strategic client relationships with such organizations as the Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Steelcase. He is a board member of the Mayo Innovation Advisory Council and the Advisory Council of Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund focused on improving the lives of the poor. Additionally, he writes for the Harvard Business Review, The Economist, and other prominent publications. His book on how design thinking transforms organizations, Change by Design, was released by HarperBusiness in September 2009.

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Business Schools, Conference, Higher Education, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Strategy

One response to “Peter Drucker Forum 2013: “Design for Complexity” by Tim Brown

  1. Pingback: An interview with Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO (Part 2) | GlobalEd

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