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Liz Wetzel

You can be a big company and still move fast.

During her RealTime session, Liz Wetzel spoke about General Motors’ design and innovation process that allowed it to move like a small company while taking advantage of the resources of a large enterprise.

With design, the challenge is to set trends, create momentum and create a brand character or personality. To address each of those challenges, GM created different teams to work on each aspect. Taking part in a corporate relay race, each team hands off its expertise to the next design or production phase. This way, creative people aren’t getting stuck in execution, and implementers can work fast without slowing down to think big picture.

In this way, new concept cars have been introduced faster and the company is taking more risks. One of the biggest dangers in design is that not all concepts will come to fruition. GM accepted that fact that large ‘waste rates’ often accompany the best designs. One of the ways to speed up buy-in and visibility for different projects, Wetzel said, is to use technology — digital design, broadcasting to different offices, etc.

Why is design important? As the economy improves and consumers become more sophisticated, the market will become more discriminating about design.

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