Geert Christiaansen on a Collaborative Approach to Integrated Solutions


Geert Christiaansen shared an overview of 90 years of design evolution at Philips. He focused on the role design plays in innovation and strategy at the company. It seemed a little awkward coming directly after Romy van den Broeke’s unflattering characterization of Philips in her presentation and honestly most of his examples seemed better suited to a product design conference than a service design conference.

At the very end of the talk, Geert shared a brief video of a design collaboration between Philips and Florida Medical Center which was a much better fit for the service design context. It showed how Philips worked with nurses and doctors at a system level doing noise and alarm analysis and spatial flows of movement throughout the hospital. They even strapped themselves to gurneys for a first-hand glimpse of the patient experience.

It was a slick video and an admirable design effort but it seemed completely disconnected from the first 15 minutes of the talk which until then had been essentially a commercial for Philips (or maybe a hiring pitch). That’s not unprecedented; I think Doberman took the same approach last year in New York but they were filling a last minute gap in the conference schedule and they had the saving grace to actually be a service design firm.

Geert conceded that they’re a work in progress; their methodologies are constantly changing. If Philips participates in future service design conferences I’d like to see them focus less on history and more on their collaborative approach to service design.

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