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Matt Dreier

Designing Innovation

by Matt Dreier Wednesday, November 20, 2013

“There is no discipline that nurtures and sparks the cognitive ability to imagine, and unleashes creativity and innovation, more than arts and culture.” - Eric Friedenwald-Fishman

Since joining the Bolz Center program in August, I have had the pleasure to engage with many alumni from around the country. Our Bolzies work in many fields and disciplines, from performing arts to software to higher education. One of the shared traits that they all seem to possess is the sense of imagination and innovation that they bring to their work every day. I find myself continuously impressed by the impact the Bolz Center has in promoting a culture of creativity amongst its students and how that translates into an ability to find innovative solutions to complex problems.

In the last week of October, the first-year students in our Arts Administration Seminar took a field trip to Madison-based Design Concepts. Design Concepts is a full-service design and innovation company, focusing on developing products and services that help businesses succeed. They have worked with numerous organizations across many fields, including health care, consumer products, education, and sports. Design Concepts utilizes a comprehensive approach to attacking projects, embracing active brainstorming within the role of the creative process. While most of their existing work is in the field of product design, they are moving toward a focus of designing experiences. My Arts Administration classmates and I have spent the duration of the semester analyzing various aspects of arts and cultural experiences, so it was a great to put some of these creative processes in action. The visit started with a full tour of their facilities located in Monona, Wisconsin that include a full fabrication shop where they manufacture models and test products. After the tour, we participated in a Q&A session with several of the Design Concepts employees, focusing our questions on their business model and innovation processes. After the Q&A, and perhaps the most fun moment of the day, we experimented with our very own creative brainstorming session by designing an experience (in this example, a celebration) for our classmates. This started with an intensive team interview session, led to active brainstorming, and culminated in a full-fledged scale mock-up of our newly created experience.

It quickly became clear throughout the afternoon the reason why Design Concepts was a group trip for our seminar class. The employees at Design Concepts incorporate the powers of creativity and innovation into every stage of their work. In our future careers as arts administrators, we will be called upon to do the same, so it is important that we learn as much as possible about the process of innovation!