The inaugural Innovation Accelerated By Design event hosted by CannonDesign’s Los Angeles office explored the role of design in spurring innovation. Last Thursday, more than 100 designers, educators, health and business leaders and innovators came together to hear leaders from Kaiser Permanente, Showtime and University of Utah share thoughts on how design can fuel innovation.

Hosted at the Herman Miller Showroom, Innovation Accelerated By Design welcomed inspiring presentations, sparked interesting dialogue, and offered exciting peeks into the future of design. The event featured a series of TED-style presentations followed by a panel discussion moderated by CannonDesign’s Director of Strategy, Swapna Sathyan.

Our moderator and speakers (From L-R) Swapna Sathyan, Mehrdad Yazdani, Troy D’Ambrosio, Sunil Shah, Jana Winograde

Starting with this inaugural event, our team is excited to build on the momentum generated and continue to feature thought leaders and industry experts through various channels and events in 2019 and beyond. For those unable to attend or simply interested, here’s a look at four key takeaways from last Thursday’s event.

Internal Disruption is Important
Sunil Shah, Kaiser Permanente’s VP of Facilities Strategy, Planning & Design, kicked off the evening with a thorough look at the health system’s legacy of innovation. He shared that from Kaiser Permanente’s perspective, “(their) buildings need to be a beacon – so what does that mean for design?” From breakthrough cancer centers, to its Health Hub concept, and even its new School of Medicine, Kaiser Permanente consistently leads the health industry in generating novel ideas to meet shifting customer demand and preferences.

Sunil was clear that this innovation doesn’t just happen and he shared that Kaiser Permanente is fully aware it must constantly “internally disrupts ourselves” to foster these exciting ideas and concepts. Sunil then focused more on how his team has opened around 50 medical office buildings since 2015 that reshape patient experience in healthcare. He shared that in healthcare, “Customer experience matters. Brand matters. The healthcare doctor’s office has a much broader role than an episodic event that happens in people’s lives.”

This recognition guides so much of Kaiser Permanente’s design efforts and they’ve rooted their visionary responses to elevating customer experience in “design, technology, services models and operational models.”

Unleashing Creativity Can Be Intentional
As one of the leading entertainment media companies in the world, Showtime Networks is a paragon for fueling creativity. The company’s President of Business Operations Jana Winograde shared how the company has redesigned its workplace in Los Angeles to empower its creative people and culture for the decades ahead. She highlighted, “For Showtime, it was about having a space that encouraged the creative process in every way, and creating and designing spaces for that.”

Jana touched on numerous features of the new workplace (set to open in 2019) as she shared renderings and video fly-throughs. She touched on how the company integrated technology, screening rooms, collaborative space and pushed the design solutions to inherently inspire those who will work within it. She also focused her presentation on Showtime’s need to “design a space that can adapt to industry change.” Jana shared that with the entertainment industry seeing new entrants in the form of technology companies, company culture, and recruit and retain is shifting in dynamic new ways.

“We looked across industries for the best workplace ideas and pushed ourselves to think about what we’ll need today, tomorrow, 10 years from now, to thrive. It’s a moving target; that’s how we think about our business, and we brought that same perspective to the workplace design process.”

Welcome Ideas from Everywhere
Troy D’Ambrosio, the Executive Director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at University of Utah, then took the stage to share how just two years after the university opened its breakthrough entrepreneurial education building, Lassonde Studios, it has quintupled the number of student-led startups on campus. “Last year, we had over 500 startups and 100 of those are still running,” he shared. Beyond this startup amplification, Lassonde Studios has also helped the University of Utah jump up in national rankings, increase student engagement on campus and accelerate funding streams.

In his presentation, Troy identified “unique compression of talent,” as a core driver for this success. Lassonde Studios welcomes students from all disciplines and levels to live in its 400+ residences and every student on campus is welcome to use its ground floor 20,000 square foot entrepreneurial hangar. The building enhances this idea of idea-sharing, as Troy added, “not only did we mashup students, but we mashed up types of spaces, like open collaborative zones, prototype spaces, workshops, hackable spaces, you name it.”

Troy added that one of the defining marks of Lassonde Studios is that students define it. “I walked in recently, and there was someone riding a scooter, someone playing the piano… it’s non-stop action and it’s 24/7 for those who live within it.”


It’s an Extraordinary Time to Be a Designer
Our own Mehrdad Yazdani helped close the series of presentations with a look at how the design process is evolving and why it must continually evolve to help organizations meet their ever-present challenges. After enthusiastically telling the attendees it was an extraordinary time to be a designer, Mehrdad shared that “we are living in a world that is rapidly changing. The emergence of new technology, (the) convergence of new generations – everything about how we work is changing.” To accommodate this change and stay relevant, Mehrdad concluded, “designers must change, too.”

Mehrdad’s presentation then focused on how prototyping, emerging technologies and new processes all help designers engage their clients and identify new solutions and opportunities that never previously existed. Having worked with Sunil from Kaiser and Troy from University of Utah closely, Mehrdad was able to highlight anecdotes from the design processes that informed their projects and unite the presentations dynamically.

“In such a remarkably evolving world, design is a common denominator that can help businesses, health systems, educators – it’s a powerful tool to help us create a brighter future.”

Inspired by the series of presentations and discussion, several audience members had questions for the crowd. The group also enjoyed the atmosphere of the Herman Miller showroom, food and drinks after the formal presentation had concluded.

Our team was thrilled with the quality of speakers for our inaugural event, their insightful presentations and we look forward to building on the great start to this event series.

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