Today Eriks and I are chatting to, Philippe Guichard, who helps entrepreneurs innovate ideas into highly desirable and profitable products. During his 25 years as an award-winning international industrial designer, he’s helped clients generate over $200 million dollars in revenue.
As a holistic designer, he recognises that an innovative product is only part of a successful business story.
He specialises in designing thoughtful and profitable products that form part of integrated marketing, engineering, manufacturing and business model solution.
“Good business by design”
He thoroughly researches your customers’ experience, distribution channels, marketing strategy, manufacturing process, business model and value proposition in order to design (or re-design) a product that is the best choice for your business — the ‘sweet spot’.
Working together to create a product that delivers increased sales and has a value proposition that benefits all of your product’s stakeholders — not just the end customer.
“Planet, people, profit”: A new world of innovation
For almost two years, he's been guest speaking on his design experience and case studies with business and industry leaders, as well as young designers.
As a passionate innovation, environmental and social advocate, he also enjoy speaking about the critical role that thoughtful industrial design, manufacturing and business models will play in a challenging future.
How can we, in business, impact the global future?
How can the Triple bottom line – People – Planet – Profit drive our design future?
And how does mindset influence innovation?
I’ve taken this short snippet from our conversation with Philippe Guichard who has 25 years’ experience as an award-winning international industrial designer, it was an insightful conversation, so enjoy.
Listen to the full episode below ...
You can connect with Philippe via LinkedIn
There's so much to unpack here. So where do I start? I'm not too sure. Maybe I'll stop by when I've been observing since, Covey the heat, Australia, for example, I work mainly with entrepreneurs and, and. CEOs of companies and you know, that type of people. And I've noticed that, I had, if I draw kind of a very black and white picture of the situation, I had two type of reactions.
[00:03:38] One was basically based on fear, uh, and direction was okay. We cannot continue to work. Uh, can't innovate at these times too. Challenging is too dangerous and we need to. Pack everything and go and survive. And you know, so that was one mindset. Yeah. And, as a consequence, as, you know, a [00:04:00] consultant in the design industry, I've lost the capital of projects and I had other entrepreneurs coming to me and saying, okay, this is a fantastic city, fantastic time to innovate.
[00:04:11] and do you know. New products and new services, because the world is changing, so the needs are going to be different. So we've got to keep our pulse on the, on the market, see what the market needs when you're gonna innovate and design new products. And then we'll adjust along the way. And when things will pick up, because they will pick up, we'll be ready and we take the market.
Yep. And I find out. I don't know. I have no words for that, but it's so interesting. There's just a different of mindset and it's nothing to do with the industry and nothing to do with a side of the company or the previous successful. The entrepreneur is. State of mind is fear. Then they go nowhere. And I even fear for their future.
[00:04:58] Cause they, they, you know, shut down some marketing expenses and all the innovation and everything. And it doesn't look really good on paper. Short term, maybe. Okay. Long-term. I'm really not sure. And other really take that as a joyful opportunity. So I found that really intriguing
There's something around mindfulness. I would like to go back to. But, uh, to address these specific, even to is covered, I've seen around me a lot of people getting to fear. I mean, in those turning yeah. They were holding totally paper for some reason. It's a very primal, I guess, reaction.
[00:07:17] Clients cancel or postpone their projects. Well, where is this all going, going on? So, yeah, but there's no, there were not really fear. I think, if I come back to the mindfulness practices, if you practice meditation, then you see things for what they are. And, and it's not that you don't have emotions or reactions, but you have distance and space around them.
[00:07:45] So when fear kicks in, you say, Oh yeah, that's fear. And then you look at this situation. So yeah, this is happening, but then you don't dwell in that space. I think that's the beauty of it. You just don't do it and you acknowledge it's happening, but you don't stay in space.
[00:08:06] Optimistic or crazy optimistic person. I will look for opportunities right away. It's like, okay, if this is changing, then what we probably need to design better product, different product, cheaper product, or product that have less function for a lesser price. So, Oh, that's plenty of new opportunities for me and my business then.
[00:08:25] So it's just how you approach the situation, the context, and then within your own mind, If you're not, if you're able to have some spaciousness or some distance with your own emotions and reactions,
Cause I'm not, I don't think things and life will come back to whatever normal, if normal was anything normal back there. So I think you need to approach things with space and optimism and pragmatism. Like it's, it's all included in one same intent, I would say so. I would just approach things in a, in a positive way, because they are, they will be positive outcomes of that.
[00:10:01] There's not crisis that happened in a world where they were not positive outcome at the end. So you can focus on the crisis and say, Oh my God, we're all gonna, or you can focus on the outcome and work towards an outcome, which is much more a joyful experience. Anyway.
I think where a lot of businesses can get unstuck is that they've got into a comfort place.
[00:10:28] You know, there may be not innovators by nature and they've, you know, they've got a good product. Whatever they do is something's working clearly the balance sheet proves that. And then all of a sudden, this. World changing event has been thrusted upon them and they just they're, they're completely out of their comfort zone.
[00:10:49] So they're not used to being in that innovative mindset. And I think there's a key difference between an ultimately a business operator who is happy with where [00:11:00] they are. They've maybe been innovative when they first got into business, but then now going with the flow and just daily, daily, literally. But yeah.
[00:11:07] Uh, and, and so it's. It's that innovation mindset. Do you think that that's a different mindset as well?
[00:11:16] I was trying to make note, as you were mentioning all that, I think there is a case for visionaries in business, and I think we've been in a lot of cases. We've been pushing those visionaries away.
[00:11:32] As soon as they have an idea that start working and then we build systems and procedures and then we put. Some type of business manager that will implement and execute some of those systems and procedures, and that can make the business extremely successful. Because he just amplifies system that is already working at the same time what's missing is the vision and the creativity of the visionary.
[00:11:59] So, if you look at companies that have, that are one of the most famous one of course is Apple. Steve's job was maybe how he was a character, but he was a visionary. So he was not doing stuff because, they were a system that was working or they will procedure. That was well, and it would put someone on there, you know, feed and, change things as they were going, because he had the vision and visionaries people.
[00:12:28] I understand from the business perspective, it can be really annoying because they're going to break the systems. They're going to break them procedures and they're going to do something different. Yeah. But Apple wouldn't be, I dunno. Yeah. I think he's close to close to a trillion company, Apple, wouldn't it be Apple because they had a good system that they had a very good visionary.
[00:12:51] Yeah, Elon Musk in, in some ways he also visionary in a different context, but also has a vision and we may agree on other grade was [00:13:00] that it doesn't matter at that stage. What is important that we shouldn't push those people away from the business context, because they are those people in times of change or in times like Covey that can really help you shift your business, do things differently.
[00:13:17] And then. Try something different, try something new and even thrive through the crisis.
…actually keeping up with the change in people you're actually going to get left behind.
[00:13:47] I would definitely agree. So there are a number of things that did happen and it will have a continuous impact. The consumer mindset has changed. [00:14:00] Some people have stayed home and experience things differently. So even as an employee, for example, they have experienced being with their kid going on, bike ride with their kids and everything.
[00:14:10] And then they wonder, Oh, should I really go back to the office? And I have a few employees around me that really raise a question, with me over the last few weeks, in terms of, positioning from the business to the customer. I think the experience is completely different. So the expectation of the customer from the buying perspective, like buying product or services is different now than it was six months ago.
[00:14:40] So if you're in business and you're not paying attention to that, I think there's a big danger here because you're missing a shift and you're missing a change. If you keep the communication with your customers and try to understand what are their new needs, there's a real opportunity for growth actually, and serve them better and [00:15:00] even have higher profit margin issue.
[00:15:03] because I think a lot of people think that they can just guess what. People are gonna want. And, and then they, they miss that vital step of really understanding. Uh, those are emotional. How we're feeling. Do you see it? Do you see that sort of experience?
[00:15:20] Yeah. I see a number of business trying to translate what they did into some kind of digital welder service and not paying much attention.
[00:15:30] Like it's very. Business oriented. Like how can I survive by pushing my stuff out there versus talking and engaging with their customers and understanding where they're at and what they need. And they may not need a full service and product anymore. They may need a fraction of it, but maybe a fraction is easier to go digital and maybe more profitable than the whole.
[00:15:53] Suite of services that you were offering before. So that's yeah, that's probably one way to think about it.
So you come from this as an industrial designer's perspective. So how does that fit? What do you do to help entrepreneurs in that way? What is your connection with
[00:16:11] So I tend to work with serial entrepreneurs, that have an idea and then want to execute that idea.
[00:16:20] And turned that into a profitable product in that context again, once the main difference between one and the other will be the mindset. So to have the mindset of taking that change as an opportunity, then it's a real joy actually to work on those projects. It's, it's really good, fun. And because we are able to see simplify, I guess, the project and the product, uh, in terms that are more, resonating, I would say with their customers, So that's, that's part of my work.
So the work I do has three main touch points, so to speak. So I'm, I'm a bit of a, maybe [00:17:00] an. Slightly unusual industrial designer because I've been working with startups for over 25 years and entrepreneurs with over 25 years. And, I've developed a specific methodology for them. And this methodology will enclose include the design.
[00:17:17] What I call design for function, which is, you know, if you need a teacup, well, you need to design a teacup that works as a teacup… makes sense. You know, some projects don't do that even too well. So it's important that you, we address that first and make sure that that works, but that's not. Yeah. So there are two other pillars that I work with.
One is marketing, understanding who you sell to and who is your audience and what are their value, what are their buying option? And, you know, I understand which target audience you really need to, to talk to, to be successful. And the last bit is business model. So I'm making sure that you know your numbers, but also you understand what the value proposition is from your brand.
Definitely. Yeah. So the model is, is actually circular. That's exactly right. So I usually introduce it as a three circles, uh, you know, so that people have a clear idea, but then usually the last slide is that there are rows in between all those circles, because the design will inform the marketing, the marketing team.
[00:18:56] We didn't follow the business model and both marketing and business model. We inform the design again. So it's a kind of a loop and sometimes you have to look quite a number of times to get it right? Yes.
so maybe in order to talk about that, I should, uh, give a tiny BWG story about how I, I came to, into. Being in and working these days. I've been always fascinated by nature even since I was a kid. They, they were part of my life where I used to work in a, in a countryside near farms and everything.
[00:19:52] So that was, you know, quite interesting to see what was happening around me. And, and I was aware as interested in sustainability, even when I was as little as nine or 10. So when I started my business at the age of 22, one of the very first thing I did is to talk about sustainability with my clients and training, sustainability from the design perspective and the engineering perspective.
[00:20:19] I remember one of the conversation I had with one of my very early clients, uh, we were designing a product together and, we were not really at the prototype stage with like mocha and we were kind of going in the right direction. And I mentioned to the CEO's how you know, that would be good.
[00:20:40] Now, if we have a look at the environmental impact of your products so that we can course correct and, and maybe do something with better. And I remember the guy just turned to me and said, Oh, you know, I'm here to do business. Okay. well, you know, you can probably do both, but he said, so not interested.
[00:21:00] [00:21:00] And then two weeks later he came back to me. He said, you know, I've been thinking about what you said. I have two kids. So if I treasure planet with my products, what kind of, well, I'm going to leave to my kids. Can we have a look at this sustainability thing? I think we starting working on that. And at that time there were not that many options in terms of material and recyclability and everything.
[00:21:22] So we couldn't go as far as we wanted to, but we did a few things. So I've been advocating for sustainability for a long, long time. Well done what I was. So I had this very high interest in business. From the very first day. So, you know, studying marketing, understanding the impact that has on, on a design process.
[00:21:46] And I include the sustainability as soon as I could. And I've noticed that something that was missing along the line with was the social impact of, of every design decision that you make. So the social impact for me is how do you impact people in the ecosystem that you built when you design and build a manufacturer and sell a product?
So it's already out there. Uh, the positive social impact sometime is viewed as a, kind of a, maybe a wishy washy type of thing. But actually in my experience, the way I see that with, uh, my own project that had been going through that, it's actually a fantastic opportunity and builds a very strong relationship with your ecosystem.
[00:23:56] So when you need something from them, usually because of the relationship and the trust and the impact you'll be building. You have a much healthier relationship with them, and then you have usually greater and better results.
[00:25:55] We need to raise the standards of each other and everything. And we all depend on each other. Now, if the [00:26:00] economy's goes down, then there are no more businesses. You can't sell your stuff. You can. So we all depend on each other. And I think COVID really demonstrated that it demonstrated, interdependence and that we all release very pragmatically depend on each other.
[00:26:20] So it's not one against the other. It's one with the other. And then, yeah. So how can we help each other? Because if we do that, everyone's going to thrive
[00:26:31] A body of thought these days around social purpose of the business and how people. They are starting to expect more from business. And I say this from a market research point of view, which, which is where I come from that consumer sentiment.
And it's something that really puzzles me. I don't know if you have observed that, but I find that so, so hard and difficult to give feedback to a company. Like it's nearly impossible to get in touch with someone and say, you know, your product is not working. Yeah. It's they don't want to hear about it.
[00:34:49] And that puzzles me, like in terms of innovation, there's a keynote I have, which the title is innovation. Innovation is right before your eyes. And [00:35:00] like it's right there because you just don't want to see it because it's not continuing you focus on data and stuff, but just go out there and observe your customers.
[00:35:09] You're going to learn heaps. And when, yeah, I don't know. I'm really puzzled. There are a few products that I bought recently and there are a couple of things that you need to work. And I just cannot get into the website. There's no contact form. There's no give feedback. And, and sometimes you receive a survey and those survey, they, they make no sense.
[00:35:31] Yeah. Well you have question is, well, the series. Awesome. Wonderful, fantastic. No, that was neither one. It's terrible. There's no room food. It's like, and then you receive the feedback of the service, like, Oh, you know that 97% of our customers that we have a good sir.
[00:37:29] Yeah. I mean the lack of feedback. Is really detrimental for businesses. And I agree. I think you share a story small to medium company, or even a retail place. And you, you really find a way to get a feedback you're going to do very well. And people love. I mean, there are people that are going to wind and everything.
[00:37:47] That's 3% of the population. That's going to say that every single is wrong, but if you discount that. You know, population and just listen to the rest. Very happy to give [00:38:00] you a feedback. If you're a retail and, and, you know, you try to serve your customers. And you get feedback from all of them that will go into the store and, and won't buy anything.
[00:38:10] And, you know, I understand this effort there, but there's so much data and so much feeling that you can get from them. You can improve your business nearly overnight, and it's just right there. You don't need to do anything like it's no need to reinvent the wheel. You need to, you know, it's not. Got expensive.
I think. Yeah, there's a case for simplicity. That's something that I really love in design. I care. I'm not sure if I can have a name for my style or anything because you know, I'm not sure what that could be, but
[00:41:35] I think there's a label French maybe. But he's elegant. I think I had that as a yes, that's a good word. Uh, but there is a case for simplicity and simplicity by the way, is, is really hard to get to is you really need to get the extra mile to go there. And I could go on and on so many case studies where before I was simple, that was really, really [00:42:00] complex and not working.
[00:42:01] But that's, if you push through that deep, then you get to simplicity. But it's simplicity. It has beauty in itself because then. People really get intuitively where you're heading and what the park is doing. So, uh, one, one of them it's called cable stub. It's a cable management device that helps you organize your cables on your desk.
[00:42:26] I was sending that and many times, and that was so funny. Many times you have people approaching the booth and explaining to their friend what their product will do. Oh, yeah. Look at that. That product will do that. That I'm like, Oh, okay. Well, okay. So they got it. So the design is kind of a point of sale by itself because it's self-explanatory yeah.
[00:42:56] Yeah, for me. Yeah. And then strangely, by the way strangely enough, the good design is transparent. Cause, you know, T's bad design because it creates pain and frustration, but good design. Usually you don't quite notice it. It's like it's working, you know, when you have a, if you have 10 years back, you know, you had an iPhone for the first time and you just pick a phone and then browse the internet and, and open a couple of apps and it's kind of transparent into the design.
Yeah, it's very hard to course correct something once it's out there. So you go shopping, everyone use disposable plastic bags, and then, you know, we do that for decades. That's someone made a decision at some point that that was a good idea because there was, you know, cheaper Festo, stronger, or whatever the case was at the time without looking at the externalities or the impact of the implications long term.
[00:44:41] You mentioned that someone I made a case for, okay, this is a very bad idea. Long term. They have very high pricing, 20 years. So not we're going to die. We're going to go back to the drawing board and we're going to think that over and over again, until we have something that works better. That's, that's, that's why [00:45:00] I am in design it's because all those decisions you make a dut stage will impact things further down the track.
[00:45:08] And the impact could be tremendous. Like if you sell a product that makes millions of copies, if you can do less parts, you can, part of that can be recycle. If you can do a product that can be dismantled easily, all that matters. And you cannot do that after the fact, it's very hard. Like, I'll give you a story.
[00:45:27] I had, I had a laptop and my laptop had them the dysfunction or something that didn't work. And I went to a repair shop and you cannot repair the laptop. It's by design, by design. You cannot change the, the, you know, the partly cause it's probably the motherboard and then you need to eat any issue where to do that.
[00:45:48] It costs like super, super high money and it's as much as buying a new one. Yep. And that's fine design. There's nothing, right. By the way, it was my laptop. It's like, it still works. And his screen where the keyboard where's, the memory works, you know, how, how these works. So I have 99% of that thing that works.
[00:46:09] And there's one thing that doesn't work and I cannot change it because it's. Designed this way. Yeah, that gets me now. I grew,
There's some point where that was about six years ago. We said, wow, if you produce stuff and then we try to do a planet trashing, the planet is externalities is not part of my business, so I don't care.
[00:47:21] And that's why we are in this situation today because you don't pay for externalities. And it doesn't mean that they don't exist. They do exist and someone will have to pay eventually for it. And you pay by pandemics. Maybe you pay by, I don't know, but we're going to pay for it. And it's going to cost it like much, much more money than doing the right thing in the first place.
[00:47:45] So that's why I'm, I'm super optimistic. And it's because of the 80% of impact set at a design stage. So we need to take our time to design the right product and try to anticipate and measure the impact. And if we do that well, then, you know, down the track, down the flow, it's going to be, you know, better.
I think back to the TEDx talk that I did. Yes, the whole. Intention of that target is everyone can have an impact. Absolutely. Everyone. And you don't know how far that the impact is going to go, because the story about the emotional story in my Ted talk is all about is it's all about having an impact in a place where I had no idea how to think.
[00:54:00] [00:53:59] Like, yeah. And it's all about the intention is not about me or no, it's not a bad debt. It's not even about a story. It's about, if you do things out there and have the intention to serve your audience, to serve your customers and, you know, help them grow and serve them meaningfully today, you will have an impact and customers will remember you.
And I can tell you, I mean, I have conversations with entrepreneurs and customers. Customers do make the difference to the breeding business that just want to trade and take their money and other business that are caring and you can be still making transaction and care for your customers, by the way, it's not exclusive, but they can perceive the difference of intention.
[00:56:32] And then the customers say you want, we still need to eat and say, can you cook for us? Or can you, you know, it's that was at the time of the beginning of the lockdown where people were hoarding pretty much everything here in Melbourne, and they couldn't even get passed out. And so the feedback was we can't, and I guess I can make that stay my restaurant.
[00:56:52] That's, that's a no brainer. And you studying making pasta and serving his community. And the, so the benefit for the restaurant that they have a kitchen, the kitchen is working and, and they serve the audience and in their community, I'm sure that when the restaurant will open again, people will remember that they will remember the person that will.
[00:57:12] That was helping them with cheap meals, very simple stuff. Uh, affordable meals, uh, affordable pastime, you know, homemade, uh, and everything. And they did that because they wanted to serve their audience. Yeah. So that's, again, it's bolt on to mindset.
[00:57:31] It's it's about building that relationship, isn't it?
[00:58:11] Yeah, exactly. And again, if you come back to opportunities, if you are small to medium business, Then it's a fantastic opportunity to rebuilt your business again, and even, you know, expand and thrive. Yeah.