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设计新贵承载飞利浦复兴美梦

Reena Jana 2012年03月06日

首席设计官肖恩•卡尼肩负重任,他必须使欧洲最大的电子产品制造商飞利浦起死回生。

    皇家飞利浦电子公司(Royal Philips Electronics)新任首席设计官肖恩•卡尼与其他顶级高管一起走进会议室时,总是喜欢来一出所谓的“清醒度检查”。做法很简单:拿出一件屡获大奖的飞利浦产品,比如一副舒适的血红色耳机,或者一款精美的项圈——里面藏着一个感应器,如果佩戴它的老人摔倒,护理者就会收到警报。卡尼如说:“开会的时候,一般会先播放一组没完没了的幻灯片和Excel表格。轮到我时,我会直接拿出某一款产品,大声说:‘这就是我们来开会的目的。只有拳头产品才能推动销量上涨。’”卡尼目前常驻荷兰工作。

    卡尼现年49岁,声音柔和平缓,一头整齐的头发已经斑白,眼角也已经出现了少许鱼尾纹,但却长着一张娃娃脸。不过,他肩头的重任却不容儿戏:协助欧洲最大电子产品厂商飞利浦起死回生。1990和2000年代,飞利浦成长为全球设计巨头,成了最受青年创意人才青睐的职业圣地之一。这二十年来,该公司的产品无所不包,涵盖了平板电视、电灯泡和救死扶伤的医疗保健设备。2011年,飞利浦获得的国际设计奖项再创记录。得益于其产品线条流畅的优雅美感,飞利浦得以比肩苹果(Apple)和宝马(BMW),在最纯粹的设计圈中也享有盛誉。

    可是,飞利浦的企业经营就不那么成功了,欧洲经济增长放缓对该公司造成的打击非常严重。由于全球建筑业减速,而各国消费者和政府纷纷削减开支,飞利浦的照明和医疗保健部门都遭受重挫。该公司第四季度陷入亏损,净亏损达1.6亿欧元(2.11亿美元),而上年同期却实现了4.65亿欧元(6.15亿美元)的净利润。近期前景颇为黯淡,毫无亮点可言,美国银行(Bank of America)、花旗(Citi)和摩根大通(JPMorgan)的分析师们全都发出了用词尖锐的警告。“考虑到全球经济不确定性,特别是欧洲经济形势不佳,我们对2012年业绩持谨慎态度,”飞利浦首席执行官范豪敦发布最新财报时表示。因此,卡尼现在这份设计工作或许是全世界最令人艳羡的职位,但同时也可能是最具挑战性的职位。

    他的蹿升速度令人印象深刻。去年3月他才加盟飞利浦,担任消费生活方式部门的设计主管。加入飞利浦之前,他为眼下处境同样不佳的惠普(Hewlett-Packard)效力,在那里曾担任总部设在圣地亚哥市的打印及成像集团的全球体验设计主管。2011年7月,飞利浦备受尊崇的设计主管史特法诺•马扎诺宣布,为该公司效力20年之后,他将于同年年底退休。随后卡尼被任命为这个备受瞩目的职位的继任者。

    卡尼的这一职责一点也不简单。2011年,飞利浦设计荣获了99项国际设计大奖,创下了公司的历史最高纪录,其中包括多个iF和红点(Red Dot)等在业内极受推崇的产品设计奖项。随后,飞利浦调整战略,希望借助设计来摆脱当前的颓势,因此,卡尼的角色于2012年1月1日再次发生了变化。在马扎诺的任期内,飞利浦设计以内部服务提供商的模式运作,为这家电子巨头的各个部门效劳,基本上也就是集团内部的一家设计公司。如今,在卡尼的领导下,“设计”被重新整合,融入了飞利浦的整体战略,成为公司上下都需践行的原则。

    When Sean Carney, the new Chief Design Officer at Royal Philips Electronics, walks into a boardroom with other C-suite executives, he likes to offer what he calls a "sanity check." He defines this as plunking down an award-winning object such as a set of cushy, blood-red headphones, say, or a sleek-looking necklace hiding a sensor that detects when an elderly patient has fallen and alerts caregivers. "First, you start these meetings with endless PowerPoint presentations and Excel files. So then I'll drag out a product and say, 'this is why we're here; this is what's driving sales,'" says Carney, who is based in the Netherlands.

    Carney, 49, has a soft, even voice and, aside from neatly cropped salt-and-pepper hair and a few crow's feet around his eyes, a baby face. This is the man with the considerable task of bringing Philips (PHG), Europe's largest electronics maker, back to life. Philips grew into a global design powerhouse during the 1990s and 2000s, becoming one of the most coveted places for young creatives to work. Over the decades, the firm has made everything from flatscreen televisions to light bulbs to life-saving health equipment. In 2011, Philips celebrated a record-breaking number of international design awards. Thanks to the elegant, streamlined aesthetics of its products, in the most rarified design circles, Philips ranks with the likes of Apple (AAPL) and BMW.

    Its business hasn't fared so well, however. The slow-down in Europe has disproportionately hurt the company. Its lighting and healthcare divisions have struggled as global construction slowed and consumers and governments alike cut back on spending. The firm swung to a fourth-quarter loss, posting a net loss of 160 million euros ($211 million) after a profit of 465 million euros ($615 million) a year earlier. Near-term prospects have been anything but bright, with analysts from Bank of America (BAC), Citi (C) and JPMorgan (JPM) all issuing stark warnings in the past weeks. "We are cautious about 2012, given the uncertainty in the global economy, and Europe in particular," chief executive Frans van Houten said in a statement when the company issued its last earnings report. Now, Carney finds himself with one of the world's most coveted design roles — and perhaps one of its most challenging.

    His rise has been notably quick. He's only been at Philips since March of last year, when he came on board as design leader of the Consumer Lifestyle division. He left struggling Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) to join Philips. There, he was head of Global Experience Design within the Imaging & Printing Group, based in San Diego. In July 2011, Philip's revered design chief Stefano Marzano announced he would retire at the end of the year after two decades at the company. Carney was named to Marzano's high-profile post.

    Carney is stepping into big shoes. In 2011, Philips Design received 99 major international design awards, including multiple prestigious iF and Red Dot prizes for product design -- the most ever for the brand. And then, dramatically, as of January 1, 2012, Carney's role shifted again, as the firm turned to design to help it out of its current difficulty. During Marzano's tenure, Philips Design operated as an internal service provider to the various divisions of the electronics giant -- essentially a design agency within the larger organization. Now, under Carney, design is integrated as a strategy and a practice throughout Philips.

 

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