Oli Shaw (Creative Director, UK)
Service Design, Cultural Debt

MOBX 2017 Speaker

MOBX 2017 Speaker Oli Shaw
Oli Shaw

Oli Shaw is a trans-disciplinary creative director, with over 19 years of experience in branding, design, strategy, communications and service design.

Oli spends much of his time understanding how to evolve organisations into better versions of themselves through hands-on strategic design – creating new, improved and more meaningful experiences for businesses, customers, and employees.

Leaning into the future and exploring how technology can be used to create rich, memorable experiences and emotional connections that help shape our world is what Oli enjoys most.

Oli Shaw has previously worked across Europe, APAC, MART and the US with organisations including Vodafone, Nokia, Telstra, UBS, RBS, BP, Garanti /BBVA, Turkish Airlines, IsBank, Guardian Media, BSKYB, BBC, Adidas, Tesco, Coles, Panasonic and a number of start-ups, both B2C and B2B. He also has had the privilege of building design studios and creative departments, growing design teams and speaking at events globally.


  • Design Process Entropy
  • Design Leadership
  • Design Culture

MOBX 2017 presentation

Design singularity – The accelerating pace of change to the practice of design.

The accelerating progress of the design industry is resulting in unfathomable pace change to the practice of design.

For the past four years, I have been conducting a series of research activities, interviews across the industry. It’s lead me towards a hypothesis of a design singularity.

To borrow from the ‘Technological singularity’; there has been a triggered runaway design demand, which entered a ‘runaway reaction’ of improvement cycles to attempt to meet this increase.

These improvement cycles are affecting the practice of design at its core. As design advances, it merges and blends with other practices; commercial strategy, organisational change, continuous development delivery, and growth solutions. But is it an evolution or a dilution?

This talk is for seasons designers, business or design leaders, and those who are using or creating design culture within organisations.

The talk will cover, 4 hypothesis why the design singularity is near:

Reason #01 – Accelerating demand for design

The success of ‘Design Thinking,’ aiding design in getting a seat at the business table. There is a huge surge in demand for design services and design driven approaches.

The result is a need to rapidly scale design offerings to supply the increased demand, through building internal capabilities or acquisition.

Q. What is the impact of such rapid scaling, finding the next million designers?

Reason #02 – Diversifying opportunities

Design faces increasingly complex and uncertain challenges solve and opportunities to explore. Which are entangled in interconnected systems across multiple business silos, often needing to move the business beyond the category it operates.

These opportunities are enriched by commercial business needs and demands, requiring more impactful outcomes and measurable return on design investment.

Q. How can you shape and approach to an uncertain problem, assembling a multi-skilled team with multiple probable outcomes?

Reason #03 – Design process entropy

Design has been described and promoted though it’s process (double diamonds, 5 steps, etc.), its success is in its simplicity of communication, the challenge is in the intricacy that comes with the reality of design work, it is a practice, not a process.

The practice of design is challenged at every stage, from volumes of individuals informed how to facilitate design thinking workshops. To digital services deploying updates hourly, and multi-variant testing design possibilities.

Q. How do you evolve from a design process to a design practice? And how do you govern quality in a continuously updating world?

Reason #04 – Design talent lifecycle

Scaling the design industry requires more designers at all levels, (i.e. ‘the next million designers’). There is a sharp increase in responsibilities for designers, as the challenges the practice of design diversify, so does the expectation of what a design needs to achieve.

These growing expectations and responsibility diversification, are couples with new designers in education of fresh out of education. Traditional education institutions are slower to change than the industry, creating gaps for new education training companies to fill.

Q. How do we grow practicing designers, without crushing them with new, unfamiliar responsibilities and expectations? And how can we ensure that new designers are properly onboarded and supported to succeed?

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