Future direction

04 November 2009
Russell Kennedy, Icograda President 2009-2011, delivered the following address to the Icograda General Assembly 23 in Beijing, China on 25 October 2009.
Russell Kennedy, Icograda President 2009-2011, delivered the following address to the Icograda General Assembly 23 in Beijing, China on 25 October 2009.





Good afternoon,

My father once told me: "There is a very good reason why windshield of a car is bigger than its rear view mirror."  I guess what he was saying is that it is more important to plan for the future than it is to dwell on the past. I have always found this to be valuable advice for life... and business for that matter.

Of course, an occasional glance back is helpful, and in fact crucial, to ensure the safety of the driver and his or her passengers. Just as it is to learn from the mistakes and successes of the past.

The world is changing at an exponential rate. No organisation operates like they did 46 years ago. In fact no organisation runs like it did last year. If they do, then they are probably less successful and effective than they were, and that is provided they are in business at all.

Icograda is no different. Icograda has evolved over the years to embrace new membership categories and form alliances with those who share our vision. In 2007, at our last General Assembly, we broadened the definition of our profession from graphic design to communication design.

But that is not enough. The world is changing rapidly and we need to embrace this change with a passion.

The 2007-2009 board, under the leadership of President Don Chang has acknowledged the need for Icograda to adjust its mission and core values to reflect the rapidly changing face of design worldwide. The statement 'leading creatively' has never been more important as we continue to champion design as a medium for progressive change.

In July this year, I contacted the Icograda Past Presidents to seek their counsel and advice on the future of Icograda. I took this opportunity to present some thoughts and outline my vision for the next term of the Icograda Executive Board. The email to the Past Presidents went something like this:

The 2009-2011 term of the Icograda board promises to be one on the most challenging in our 46-year history as an organisation. The strategy for the next term will be to concentrate on three key areas:
  • Global advocacy
  • Unity
  • Engagement
For Icograda to achieve the aim of global advocacy, unity and engagement, we need to ask our self the following questions:
  • Who are we talking to?
  • What are we are saying?
  • How do we connect with them?
What I did next was to match these three questions with my three key strategic priorities:

GLOBAL ADVOCACY: "Who are we talking to?"

Four years ago our Council adopted the statement "leading creatively", personifying the shared philosophy of our member organisations to use design as a medium for progressive change within government, economy and education institutions.

Importantly, Icograda will continue to serve needs of our members by developing a plan for design advocacy. This strategic adjustment will see the next board place greater emphasis on our role to promote communication designers' vital role in society and commerce and to unify the voices of designers worldwide.

This approach will see Icograda participate in forums that connect with governments, corporations and drivers of the global agenda. To do this effectively, we need to embed 'communication design' within the broader 'multidisciplinary' definition of design.

Icograda will draw on its partnership in the IDA, and other global strategic partnerships, to advocate the value of design holistically before drilling down to the specific benefits of 'communication design.' In other words, It's time to change the way we present ourself. To quote the AIGA's Ric Grefé, "We need to move design beyond the limitations of its past self-perception."

Icograda's 2.01 strategic direction acknowledges that design is at pivotal point in its development globally. Governments around the world are rapidly adopting national design policies, supported by institutions, to deliver government-initiated design promotion. Design is now highly respected as both an economic and social driver. It's ability to innovate, facilitate innovation and value-add is being recognised by business leaders, manufacturers and social planners.

Icograda's partnership in the International Design Alliance (IDA) will be an important factor in the way we deliver this strategy. And though the IDA was established to undertake the role of design advocacy, Icograda also needs to independently play its part in promoting design to key international stakeholders and decision makers.

The next term will see us achieve this through initiatives and forum discussion connected to the World Design Survey.™

UNITY: "What we are saying?"

Icograda will play a greater role in delivering the message of how design is becoming an enabler for not only industries, but also NGO's and governments at both regional and national levels. Communication design needs to be an active player because communication design intersects with every other design discipline... and design it self intersects with every other industry and profession... Yes, we have an important role to play.

Icograda will lead by example, continuing to work with Icsid and IFI to improve the structure, operations and vision of the IDA.

Icograda will also actively encourage an international culture of design collaboration and build alliances around the world. The purpose of this is to increase the impact and appreciation of design by distilling the message, promoting unity and reducing repetition. The effect will be to consolidate and clarify the voice of design, which will improve its ability to be heard and understood.

Icograda will continue to champion the key items such as intellectual property, design education, professional ethics and sustainable practice. However, we will now extend our reach to link up with a variety of like-minded organisations who share a belief in design's potential to affect positive change.

Icograda will continue to foster design education synergies between Cumulus and the IEN.

Icograda will act, as facilitators to share knowledge and opinions on why we believe collaboration and unity are critical to advance design's agenda.

The next board will build on the successful "Design Week" management strategy, which was implemented this term. Our commitment to design research and education will increase with the roll out of Iridescent: the Icograda Journal of Design Research.

Through INDIGO, the International Indigenous Design Network, we will create connections between Indigenous designers around the world while also promoting indigenous and non-indigenous collaboration.

ENGAGEMENT: "How do we connect with them?"

Icograda will build stronger ties with government policy makers and design promotion agencies around the world. We will pursue participation in forums that promote and develop the international social and economic agenda.

The 2009-2011 term will also investigate ways to engage with regions around the world where countries have found it difficult to establish membership-based associations. We will devote particular attention to Africa and continue to develop opportunities in Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Indian Subcontinent. INDIGO will provide ways for designers from non-member countries to engage with Icograda.

The 2009-2011 term will also see the implementation of a new initiative 'SolveD'. SolveD will be an adjunct activity of the World Design Survey,™ providing a platform for problem solving through design. SolveD will engage a broad group of design stakeholders made up of organisations and groups who are driving the international agenda. This is an exiting new direction that will expand the international design discussion.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I'd like to thank Brenda for her support and I'm really looking forward to working with her, the Secretariat  and our new board during my term as President.

I will finish by saying that I have had some great mentors over my years on the Icograda board. There have been many great board members and inspiring leaders.

I have been fortunate to serve under Presidents and Past Presidents like , Rob Peters, Mervyn Kurlansky, Jacques Lange and Don Ryun Chang, who joined the Icograda board with me six years ago. Someone who has long been identified as Presidential material is Lise Vejse Klint, who has also been invaluable as a mentor and friend and could very well be standing here today. Each of these people had different approaches and all of them have been and are great leaders.

I thank them and the other Board members and only hope that I do justice to them and their vision for Icograda.

I can assure you that when I do glace back into the rear view mirror I will be looking at all of you.

Thank you,

Russell Kennedy
Icograda President 2009-2011