Prof. Sara Beckman Honored at First Haas Pecha Kucha on Design, Nov. 5

What do you get when you invite an eclectic group of leading design thinkers to answer an open-ended question, but give them a disciplined, haiku-like format? A pecha kucha – the lively antidote to the dreaded "death by PowerPoint."

The Haas community is invited to its first event modeled on the pecha kucha concept on Nov. 5 as part of a California Management Review (CMR) reception to celebrate Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman's 2009 Accenture Best Paper Award. The event, titled "Dimensions in Design: The Evolving Role of Design in Business," is co-sponsored by the Dean's Speaker Series. It begins at 5:00 p.m. in the Bank of America Forum, followed by the pecha kucha from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Andersen Auditorium.

A pecha kucha (pronounced "pe-chak-cha," from the Japanese word for "chit-chat") allows presenters exactly 20 PowerPoint slides, paced at 20-second intervals, for a total of 6 minutes, 40 seconds. When Beckman found out she and co-author Michael Barry of Stanford were to receive the award for their CMR article "Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding Design Thinking," she decided that rather than giving another talk on her work, it would be more fun for students to hear top designers address the subject.

"I knew this format would appeal to my design friends," says Beckman, who has experimented with mini-pecha kuchas before. "They can't just pull a presentation off the shelf, and they like that challenge. It forces them to be creative, allows them to show off a little, and even creates a bit of competition."

Among those who answered Beckman's challenge to participate in the pecha kucha:

  • Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk
  • John Edson, president of design firm Lunar
  • John Jamieson, Clorox's lead design and innovation manager
  • Barry Katz, humanities and design professor at the California College of the Arts and an associate professor in the Stanford Art Department
  • Peter Lawrence, chairman of the Corporate Design Foundation
  • Lara Lee, principal at Jump Associates and a former designer for Harley-Davidson
  • Peter Merholz, president of Adaptive Path
  • Elizabeth Windram, senior user experience designer at Google

Beckman gave them no further parameters than to talk about what business should know about design — and to stay within the format.

"We've a got a wide collection of people: web designers, hard-core product designers, design firms, engineers, and a design history professor," Beckman says. "I'm expecting a widely divergent set of presentations."

Since a Tokyo architecture firm developed Pecha Kucha Night in 2003 for young designers to showcase their work, the phenomenon has spread throughout the world and is gaining popularity for business presentations.

The event is free and open to the public. Follow the event live via Twitter at #haasdesign.