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Backstory: How We Designed The New INside Innovation Magazine.

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| Patrick Whitney's Design Strategy Conference is Happening Now.

May 15, 2006

Backstory: How We Designed The New INside Innovation Magazine.

Bruce Nussbaum

INside Innovation is coming out soon. It will be a quarterly at first, stitched inside Business Week with issue #1 hitting the stands on June 9, with two more issues for '06. I'm hoping it grows fat (right now it is officially a "supplement") and we spin it out as a stand-alone.

We broke lots of rules designing IN--and started changing culture at BW along the way. We opened the process by holding a contest and asking four players to pitch their concepts. You're not supposed to do this in mag design land. You're supposed to choose one brilliant design shop first and work with that firm all the way through to the end. Our Art Director was kind of stunned when I first proposed the idea.

But I wanted to open the process and choose among many new ideas so I opened it up. And we asked three out of four to do it on spec (OK, we didn't have much money either to launch something new). The spec thing is a no-no in AIGA but it turned out it wasn't an issue--the three players who did it on spec said they were willing to do so because the process created new IP that they could use with their other clients.

We invited one young, great magazine designer, David Albertson, out of San Francisco. He did ReadyMade and Make magazine. Then we blew it out by invited IDEO and StoneYamashita Partners to participate. My thinking was that both were in our intellectual space--innovation and design thinking--and their clients were our readers.

And both IDEO and SYP created amazing prototypes. Brilliant and beautiful. IDEO's Tim Brown and SYP's Susan Shuman came in to show their thinking and design. We could easily have gone with either and been successful. It was just so great listening to them. So smart. IDEO's emphasized the permanent nature of what we are trying to do--bascially teach managers how innovation really gets done. SYP's was one of the most thoughtful and exciting layouts I've seen anywhere. It has deep roots in graphic design.

The big surprise to me was the winner--Modernista, the Boston-based ad agency that has done incredible work for Hummer and other clients. It too has deep roots in graphic design--co-founder Gary Koeptke did Vibe magazine years ago, a smash hit. I picked Modernista as an outside shot--to bring in a totally outside-the-box player to mix things up. To my surprise, Modernista got our DNA and designed this incredible prototype. Modern, clean, elegant, perfect. It integrates our work on the Innovation & Design portal into print to make a single organic product--liquid content flowing over platforms (SYP's was great at this too). I believe that mag design simply must go that way for the future.

So now we are trying to learn how to partner with an outsider in putting out a magazine. Never done this before, so all the art and production people have to link up with the Boston people. I'm doing the same with the writing side. We are learning tons of stuff as we race to the finish.

05:26 PM


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Michael Bierut on NO!SPEC from Designers who Blog: Design, Illustration, Photography, Web, Advertising, Branding ...

Michael Bierut with ‘The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation?’

Fact: Bruce Nussbaum from Business Week’s NussbaumOnDesign launches ‘INside Innovation’, a magazine that promises “a deep, deep dive into the innovation/design/cr... [Read More]

Tracked on June 6, 2006 03:11 AM

in from brand new

Businessweek has just published the first of a quarterly insert called 'in' - Inside Innovation. A lot of the content is available here and is well worth a read. But the reason for posting is not simply the content of [Read More]

Tracked on June 10, 2006 09:29 PM

Well, one idea should be to publish the very first magazine in pdf in order to display it online.

Posted by: Georges de Wailly at May 16, 2006 12:04 PM

Would you ask McKinsey, Accenture and Bearing Point all to contribute strategic ideas on spec? Why not see how several different law firms would try a case on spec? Asking several design firms to generate ideas just shows how little a client understands design. What the client is saying is "I don't know what I want, how to get it, or who to turn to to provide it." It also shows a lack of trust in, and respect for, the profession in general. Design still has a way to go if this is acceptable practice.

Posted by: Greg Hinzmann at May 31, 2006 07:14 AM

This is ridiculous, you expect people to take you seriously? Why don't you just forego your salary and see how much fun that is. Soliciting spec work is an unprofessional practice.

Posted by: A. Professional Designer at June 5, 2006 08:46 PM

What a shame. Here you have a chance to do something positive for the design community, and you start out as low as they come.

Debbie Millman in the conversation over at Design Observor says it best ...

"so let me get this straight: Business Week wants to launch a magazine to the mass business market about the value of design and innovation, and how businesses can better utilize designers services, and then asks four of the top design firms in the country to work for free. does anyone else see the cruel irony in this?"

Spec is spec


Posted by: Catherine Morley at June 6, 2006 03:14 AM

I have to agree with Greg on this one.

What competitive, non-conglomerate design firm can afford to work for free? Or maybe we have the wrong idea. How about taking a cab, without paying, from the airport just to "try out their service?"

Design is an industry just like any other: you "place your order" by understanding your own needs, agree or disagree to the quote, approve the final project, and PAY for it.

What did the losing firms get for their time and effort? A mention in an online posting? Seems there are two sides of this situation that deserve blame: the ones who asked for work on spec and the ones who continue to provide it.

Posted by: Dave Newman at June 6, 2006 04:28 AM

So is it OK if I steal the next issue of INside magazine? You know, I'll just open the process by holding a contest and asking four magazines to pitch their wares to get me to pay attention? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

Posted by: anona at June 6, 2006 07:22 AM

Sounds worthwhile for me as a reader. But gee, I'm not sure I want to commit to plunking down $4 for it. Maybe my newsstand guy will let me stand there for an hour and read it "on spec."

C'mon, there are more effective ways to be cost efficient.

Posted by: Robert at June 6, 2006 05:34 PM

You are asking professionals to do work for free! I do not understand this mentality. It shows a lack of respect for the industry. Further, I do not understand why BusinessWeek ‘didn’t have much money either to launch something new’. We are speaking about BusinessWeek here, not some mom and pop putting out a yearly newspaper.

Here is the truth, you are a huge company that asked for the work for free because ‘you can’, not because you can’t pay for it and not in the interest of getting new ideas. BusinessWeek is a huge company and designers want your business because they can use it as a showpiece to get other ‘paying’ jobs. I too hold those designers accountable for taking the spec jobs, but for you as a major business magazine to endorse such a practice is wrong and unforgivable and out of touch.

Posted by: Ryan L. Brandt at June 6, 2006 08:57 PM

I agree with Dave on this one. Any designer involved with such a project should get recognition for his work, no matter how small. No one likes to work for free!

Posted by: Chantal at June 13, 2006 07:53 PM

Shame on you. I am at a complete loss as to what is innovative about being cheap. Your reasons for going the spec route couldn't be less original - these reasons are the same bs that every unthinking, ignorant client tries to feed us.

Posted by: Mark Braddock at July 9, 2006 02:33 PM

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