Knoll CEO Andrew Cogan on Design, Innovation and the Evolution of the Workplace

Latest word works, for Core77, feature an interview with Knoll’s CEO, Andrew Cogan.

This year’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for corporate and institutional achievement was given to furniture design company, Knoll. The award is a timely vindication for the design-focused company, which continued to invest in design even as the economy tanked (Knoll stock price in the first quarter of 2009 sank to just over $5; shares are now over $20.)

Andrew Cogan has been CEO of the East Greenville, Pennsylvania-based company since 2001. I talked with him about the company’s ongoing commitment to innovation, and he described how Knoll has learned to evolve and adapt along with the market even as it continues to emphasize the importance of design to the bottom line (“Workspaces,” top, are a new introduction designed by famed New York-based company, Antenna.)

Read the interview on Core77.


11 Best Innovation Design Books of 2010

I came up with a list of my books of the year for Core77. As with all these things, it’s totally subjective, reflective of many of my current interests and missing out many worthy and useful books. However, I still think it’s a worthy exercise, mainly for allowing me to look back and take stock of themes that have bubbled up through the year and that might be worth keeping an eye on in the next.

I won’t doublepost here, so do check out the full piece on Core77 for commentary on why I chose these books in particular. But here, for the sake of it, is the list itself. Do let me know what you think–and which titles I should be hung, drawn and quartered for omitting.

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age
by Clay Shirky
Penguin Press

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
by Steven Johnson

The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion
by John Hagel, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison
Basic Books

The Mesh: Why The Future of Business is Sharing
by Lisa Gansky

Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World
by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge
by Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble
Harvard Business Review Press

Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd
by Youngme Moon
Crown Business

Living with Complexity
by Don Norman
The MIT Press

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
Crown Business

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur

by Branko Lukic with text by Barry M Katz
The MIT Press

The Innovator’s Mindset: Can You Turn Mud Into Gold?

[[Originally posted on]]

It took a moment of family trauma for Colonel Dean Esserman to figure out how he needed to transform the Providence police department. The upset arose when the police chief’s son made a sad phone call from Washington D.C. to report a stolen bicycle. Esserman was pissed. Not with his son, of course (though he quickly and ruefully realized he’d be the one taking care of replacing the bike). But because it suddenly dawned on him that this type of situation epitomized what’s wrong with the contemporary policing system.

Read the rest of this piece here.

Reporting from the first day of the Business Innovation Factory’s annual shindig

[[Originally posted on Core77]]

“What I created, I need to destroy.” Richard Saul Wurman was on fine, curmudgeonly form on the opening day of BIF6. In particular, he seemed indignant that the 18-minute speech format he coined with the TED conference has been so widely replicated around the global conference circuit. “Speakers are practicing!” he said, in outrage. “They know it’s going to be taped and on the fucking television or computer!” This, said one of the world’s most convincing hams, quashes both creativity and sincerity. “When you want me to stop talking, say ‘that’s it’. Be an editor,” he challenged BIF’s organizers, who limit their speakers to a mere 15 minutes. And to his credit, conference founder Saul Kaplan picked up the gauntlet, standing up after Wurman’s time was (well) over and quietly proclaiming “that’s it.” (Wurman, to give him his due, meekly capitulated.)

Read the rest of this post, complete with photos, over at