Eric Quint, Vice President and Chief Design Officer, 3M Company has steered his team to global accolades, even while chalking up individual design awards. He is named inventor on three U.S. patents related to the breakthrough ‘Cool Skin’ Philips/Nivea shaver. A respected speaker and lecturer on design thinking, innovation, branding and design management, he provides insights to POOL gleaned from many decades of global experience.
How were you drawn to design?
EQ: During high school I was interested in several areas such as technology, music and art. When I was introduced to the world of design, I realized that it was a profession that bridged both technology and art, and I think that is what drew me to it. After getting a degree in mechanical/industrial engineering, I studied Industrial Design at the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. My design education developed my capabilities as a design thinker and taught me to use empathy to understand the people you design for. It showed how to use creativity to come up with great ideas.
Briefly describe your journey before 3M.
EQ: Before joining 3M Company in April 2013, I worked with Royal Philips Electronics, where I was Global Head of Design Management and Consulting, and Vice President at Philips Design. I directed several award-winning global design teams across business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries. I was a member of the global design board responsible for the development of a global team of design managers and the business development and management of the Design Consulting portfolio for clients outside Philips.
What does it take to lead a global design team?
EQ: The role of an executive design leader in a global enterprise is relatively new. Only around 10% of the Fortune Top 100 Companies have placed design as an executive priority. 3M is committed to successfully adding design to its portfolio, because it recognizes that design enriches innovation and differentiation through brand experience. Based on my experience, the following attributes are required to fulfil the role of a Chief Design Officer: Empathy driven by Curiosity to understand customers; Creative Sensibility to guide and inspire future thinking; and Diplomacy and Patience to navigate change across a global and complex organization.
What are the challenges of designing products for the Indian market?
EQ: As designers we are driven by understanding the needs of our customers in order to translate this into solutions that are relevant and meaningful to them. The Indian market is huge and very diverse. Designers have to apply customer research with empathy to understand the many different behaviors of customers that are driven by different cultural contexts. In that complexity, designers have to make choices and prioritize needs in order to create the best solutions supported by our 3M technology platforms.
Tell us about 3M India’s award-winning products.
EQ: We are very proud of the Red Dot international product design award that we received for the Scotch-Brite™ Twister Mop designed by our Indian team. This product design is based on customer insights from the Indian market with an innovative wringing mechanism and resulted in an elegant and effective cleaning tool for home use. Winning a design award is a great peer recognition and acknowledgement for the 3M Design team in India for the work they put into making this differentiated idea into a commercialized solution. Awards support our overall mission of design excellence for our customers and the company.
Which factors shape brand experience for a customer?
EQ: A brand experience is the result of the orchestrated design effort across all customer touchpoints such as the design of the product, the packaging or the digital interaction through an app or website. It is the overall manifestation of the brand through the behavior of the company related to their physical and digital solutions. To drive an ultimate brand experience, sufficient leadership, brand framework and change in management across all levels of the company is a prerequisite.