Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale

Finding a Meaningful Direction in a Changing World

About the project

Digitalization gives access to an unprecedented amount of opportunities. How to make sense of this overabundance and envision the next big thing? How to avoid the paradox of ideas (the more we ideate, the less we create value)? How to build quality rather than quantity in innovation? To succeed in an overcrowded world we need a meaningful direction. To focus our creativity towards a new, shared purpose. This research provides the mindset, the process, and the tools to take the first crucial step in any innovation journey: the design of a meaningful direction.

Principal Investigator:  Roberto Verganti

Researcher team:  Claudio Dell’Era, Paola Bellis, Emilio Bellini, Tommaso Buganza, Silvia Magnanini, Federico Artusi, Stefano Magistretti, Federico Frattini, Vittorio Chiesa, Daniel Trabucchi, Elena Pellizzoni.

Funders: Sorgenia, Prysmian, Moleskine, Assolombarda, EU (EIT Digital – Wellbeing at Work)

Duration: 2009-ongoing

Partners: University of California San Diego, Mälardalen University, RISE-Sweden


  • Roberto Verganti, Overcrowded – Designing Meaningful Products in a World Awash with Ideas. Boston, MA: MIT Press, 2017
  • Roberto Verganti, “The Innovative Power of Criticism – Judgment, not ideation, is the key to breakthroughs”, Harvard Business Review, Volume 95, Number 1, pp. 88-95, January-February 2016
  • Donald A. Norman, and Roberto Verganti, “Incremental and Radical Innovation: Design Research vs. Technology and Meaning Change”, Design Issues, Vol. 30, Issue 1 (Winter 2014): pp. 78-96
  • Roberto Verganti and Åsa Öberg, “Interpreting and Envisioning: A Hermeneutic Framework to Look at Radical Innovation of Meanings”, Industrial Marketing Management. Vol. 42 (1), 2013: 86-95.
  • Claudio Dell’Era and Roberto Verganti, “Diffusion Processes of Product Meanings in Design-Intensive Industries: Determinants and Dynamics”, Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28, 2011, 881-895.
  • Roberto Verganti, “Design, Meanings, and Radical Innovation: a meta-model and a research agenda”, Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 25, n. 5, 436-456, 2008.