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  • 10.16.08

Design for the Developing World: It’s the Systems, Stupid


It’s not enough just to design useful tools for the developing world, IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown told the audience at the Social Capital Markets 2008 conference now going on in San Francisco.  It’s equally critical to design the distribution channels, supply chains, and marketing strategies that would allow them to reach the people they’re intended for. “Breakthrough innovation in the developing world is happening by designing systems,” he told the audience in a session on Design for the Developing World.

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Paul Polak, another panelist, agreed that the ability to mass market is as important as the ability to conceive of a product that addresses a need.


It’s standing room only at the conference, a stunning achievement given the continuing market meltdown on the opposite coast. As conference organizer Kevin Jones noted in his opening remarks, of the 600 attendees, 450 registered after Lehmann Brothers filed for bankruptcy.

About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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