Wednesday, July 4, 2007

230 Sectors of Economy for Design Action in India

We have been giving an assignment to our students in the "Design Concepts and Concerns" course since 1999 at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad that requires them to brainstorm and build a model of the Indian economy from the point of view of design opportunities that are embedded therein. The very fact that they address these broad perspectives in their foundation programme we feel that it would influence their career choices as the go forward in their education at NID and in their professional lives. These sectors are a mixed bag of industry types and service sectors where design is being used in India and these fall under several ministries of the Government of India.

Our list is actually longer than 230 in number but the figure is not an absolute one, give or take a few. However when we had built models of the sectors in the classroom, one of the groups had a logic for the number “230” by virtue of their categorisation effort and this figure has stuck in all my references ever since. These are shown in the diagrams shown here in low resolution in order to appreciate how we did this exercise and arrived at the list of categories for Design action in the Indian economy. I had included this description in an invited paper that was prepared for the Design Issues Journal (the special issue on India that has been released last year) but unfortunately my paper was turned down for lack of space. My paper was titled "Avalanche Effect.." (October 2002) and it was based on my course at NID and I had immediately released it on the PhD-Design list and one can search for "Avalanche Effect" there.
or download the paper from my website here.

The illustrations shown above include the Sectors of the Economy models by our students and I think the logic was as follows: two kinds of outputs - Products and Services: multiplied by five types - hardware, software, infrastructure, organisation and policy, procedures and business models – all applied across 23 broad sectors or ministries gives us 230 classes of sectors that could use design for development. (matrix of 5 broad fields x 2 types x 23 sectors = 230)

(5 fields: Nature, Society, Work, Life & Play)
(2 types: Products & Services)
(23 sectors or ministries – agriculture, health, industry, mining, ……)
see post below

This image is a map of the sectors using a city as a metaphor and the streets represent the ministries and sectors while the title is a call for a Ministry of Design, how insightful.

I do intent to take this further and make a full paper (when time permits) with a projection of the kinds of institutions that we will need to build in order to service this enormous task in India (and elsewhere) in the years ahead. I have already been involved in the design and establishment of three “schools of design" that address different sectors of the economy and this way we can find funding from different ministries and industry groups to make this happen as we go forward. The IICD, Jaipur is a school for the crafts sector in India, the BCDI, Agartala is a school for the bamboo sector in India and the Accessory Design Department at NIFT, New Delhi – for which I was an advisor – is a school for the jewelry, lifestyle & clothing accessory sector in India, we need many more such design initiatives. We still need to find the core of design capabilities that need to be at the centre of all these plans. We have reports on these initiatives that were prepared over the past ten years or more and these can directly download from my personal website link here.

We would explore this further as we go forward and in my view design still needs to be understood in the context of all this complexity in that days ahead. As you will see, this is not a fully developed theory as yet but it is something that we can work with towards a better understanding of design and to see its impact at the macro-economic level. I have placed a new model using my Hyderabad keynote to the HCI-USID 2007 conference last month on my post below and one can download this model of design opportunities and the brief list of design disciplines, design sensibilities and design knowledge which need to be part of any new school of design in the years ahead. I believe that besides designers we will need to open the field to managers and other specialists to use the discipline of design and this will be the general challenge in the days ahead. Bruce Nussbaum talks about the need to get CEO’s to adopt design thinking as a way of life in his recent blog post on BusinessWeek Online which is very heartening to hear from a management perspective. He is echoing the views of people like Roger Martin of Rotmans in Toronto and Uffe Ulbaek of the Kaos Pilot, Denmark as well as other thinkers such as G K Van Patter of NextD, New York who is advocating the shift to Design 2.0, a new collaborative space that addresses complex problems rather than specialization bound frames of thought and work.

I am currently interacting with a team of international experts on developing this list further and Dr. Ken Friedman, Denmark, Dr. Terence Love, Lancaster, UK, and Filippo A. Salustri, Toronto, Canada are cooperating online through the PhD-Design list as a team who are trying to take this forward as a well developed framework over the next few months of online collaboration. We will share the outcomes in public as soon as we are ready with our conceptual structure.

See also ...What is Design?

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