Becoming Rich by Designing for the Poor

(This essay was first published on Egology – The Ideafarms Blog on December 12, 2013)

Last year, Amit Gulati, who runs Incubis Consultants, invited me to participate in an interactive session to think through design ideas for a low-cost washing machine. The workshop brought out some very interesting and fascinating ways of seeing’ that completely overturned the engineering / tech / product way of approaching design problems. Did we need to redesign the washing machine (Product) under stricter constraints [this is the way most people think – start with an existing product, strip it of features, use cheaper materials and processes, reduce quality and make it low-cost], or did we need to go up a level and reframe the problem itself.

Orbits of Influence

Image Courtesy: Incubis Consultants, 2013.

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In the old days — as recently as the dying years of the last century — technology was trying to keep up with our needs. But instead of playing catch up, its pace overtook our needs. In the end, technology, especially those products that were powered by the silicon chip, won the race. Today we have more technology than we need and yet, rather than using what already exists to solve societal problems, we still go after creating more and more technology for the narrowest part of the pyramid – the top. Continue reading “Becoming Rich by Designing for the Poor”

Reimagining India: MIT Sloan’s Prof. Yasheng Huang

India is known globally for the rise of its information-technology and software industry. Yet in this video interview, Yasheng Huang, a professor of global economics and management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and essayist from Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower Simon & Schuster, November 2013, warns the country against becoming too dependent on those sectors. He argues India’s potential will only be realized if the country develops its manufacturing and services sectors, which requires labor-market reforms and significant investments in both education and social services. Without those, India will not only face growing social inequality but could also jeopardize its pipeline of college-ready students critical to the high-tech industry.

via Reimagining India: A conversation with Yasheng Huang | McKinsey & Company.