When Grant Achatz's Chicago restaurant Alinea opened, it helped popularize a radical cooking style known as molecular gastronomy. The chef recalls the thinking behind some of his brain-stretching culinary creations in the slide show above.
Target's prescription packaging is an object lesson: everything can be improved, and good ideas can come from anyone.
After her grandmother mistakenly took pills from the wrong prescription bottle, then design student Deborah Adler devoted her thesis project to improving the decades-old standard drug packaging. Target was impressed by her work and in 2005 rolled out the new label system—called ClearRx—in its pharmacies. Adler, 38, now runs an eponymous studio that works with Target, Medline Industries, Johnson & Johnson, and others.
What was it like designing something that affected so many people?
We were in Florida, pilot-testing the new system. I was there for one of the first prescriptions we got filled. The pharmacist showed it to me and I realized that something that was a school project became something much bigger. People were touched by this system, and a lot of people reached out and sent letters and were thankful for it. You can't design for the world; you have to design for the person. By focusing on that, the end result came through.
How can the design thinking that you applied to ClearRx help improve other parts of the health care system?
If you want to make an impact, you have to go to the gemba. It's a Japanese term for "the real place," or where the work is done. Toyota pioneered this way of thinking; for them, it's the factory floor. For my grandma, the patient, the gemba is the medicine cabinet. And that's where we really needed to change. I created ClearRx after watching her and seeing where her mistake happened. I use this tool going forward, and it's informing how we redesign other parts of the hospital experience, such as advanced wound care and catheter use. The trick is to be there, on the ground and seeing it.
Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind was heralded as an industry manifesto. How do some of its key passages hold up? Below, a list of quotes from the book ranked from prophetic to aspirational.
"It's no longer sufficient to create a product, a service, an experience, or a lifestyle that's merely functional. Today it's economically crucial and personally rewarding to create something that is also beautiful, whimsical, or emotionally engaging."
"Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. These six senses increasingly will guide our lives and shape our world."
"In a world enriched by abundance but disrupted by the automation and outsourcing of white-collar work, everyone, regardless of profession, must cultivate an artistic sensibility."
"As more people develop a design sensibility, we'll increasingly be able to deploy design for its ultimate purpose: changing the world."
COLOR OF THE YEAR*:
*According to expert color forecasters at Pantone.
HOT ITEM: Microsoft’s Xbox 360 wows gamers.
FAIL: The ill-fitting Oakley Thump sunglasses sport a built-in MP3 player ... that holds just 60 songs.
THE YEAR IN SPACE: Cassini-Huygens: NASA teams with European and Italian space agencies for first outer-solar-system landing.
- 2004: Ambitions Rise in the East, Project Runway vs. The Industry
- 2005: Rethink Dinner, A Better Drug Bottle, Inside a Designers Mind
- 2006: PG&G Best-Kept Secret, Man with the Golden Touch
- 2007: Know your Type, The iPhone... Stinks?, The iTunes Effect, Can Design Change the World?
- 2008: All Politics is Visual, Nature as a Teacher, The Rise of Designer Founders
- 2009: Track and Fields, The Crowd Takes Over, Don Draper Hits the Mall
- 2010: Hands Off that Logo!, Innovation's Perfect Storm, Close your Eyes, See Everything
- 2011: Why People Love an Infographic, A Long-Awaited Vision, Reviewed by All, When Design is Also Art
- 2012: London Plays for Keeps, Instagram, Pinterest, and the Next Big Thing
- 2013: Talent War, Young Guns, The Future of Transit?
[Grant Achatz Image: courtesy of Rosie Birkett | Central Park Image: Flickr user Uwe Kempa | Miami Design Basel Image: Flickr user Achim Hepp | iStockphoto (Etsy)]
A version of this article appeared in the October 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.