Dan Brown is an award winning designer, inventor, entrepreneur & professor, in the Segal Design Institute – Northwestern University, and a champion of establishing a design inspired leadership culture in our future. "We are witnessing a new interdisciplinary role for Design in society, where practitioner-designers from all disciplines seek advantaged and sustainable outcomes to problems. Great design seeks conceives and creates new knowledge, embodied in ethically sustainable practices. Dan’s vision is to educate and empower the future design leaders with this philosophy.”
A native of Chicago south-sider, Dan attended St. Xavier University, earning a Bachelors Degree in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry. Upon graduating, Dan embarked on a career in the chemical and plastics industry where he applied his work experience, science education, and natural ability in engineering and leadership to a fast track business career. One of Dan's life aspirations has been to share his experiences through teaching; he earned a Master’s Degree in Product Development (MPD2) from Northwestern University in 2005 where he is currently a Clinical Associate Professor. Dan has a PhD in Design from Coventry University in the UK. Collectively Dan's experience and education in design, technology, intellectual property and business have provided him numerous narratives to share with his students, where his teaching philosophy is a robust combination of theory and practice.
While serving in management roles of increasing responsibility in the rapidly globalizing marketplace of the 1980's, Dan quickly discovered the necessity of creating protectable competitive advantages to sustain a business model. These early marketplace experiences and highly competitive interactions inspired Dan to “creative-action”, designing several new technologies for his employers leading to the application for his first three patents for these inventions before the age of 30. After 10 years of progressive market responsibilities, managing several businesses as an employee in the 1980’s, Dan launched his own Product Design consultancy, Consul-Tech Concepts, in 1991. Dan’s philosophy for this new approach was “Differentiation by Design®”, a design process that strategically focuses on potential “white spaces” early in the design process. “White Space research uncovers the unseen needs and requirements, allowing for designerly new knowledge creation across all aspects of the user-product experience.”
As a technology development and business consultant using this strategy, Dan has worked with large and small companies to create and commercialize many differentiated new products and processes for their businesses, often creatively redefining these market spaces. Over the years, Dan has received over 100 US and International Utility patents for his novel new product solutions. In 2001, Dan challenged himself to create a case study project for his differentiation by design philosophy, seeking to validate these methods of design in practice. At the same time creating a design case study emulating the design philosophy of the process, from the design concept to market commercialization. This vision resulted in the creation of the Bionic Wrench®, launched at the National Hardware show in May 2005 from a newly founded entrepreneurial startup, LoggerHead Tools LLC, the patented Bionic Wrench has received several US Utility Patents and over 10 international Design and Innovation Awards.
Dan has seen both sides of the American Dream with the Bionic Wrench; as it approaches 2.5 million units sold, he has had to fight knockoffs in the marketplace. One insight arises from this experience, “while design can certainly transform society in an ethical way; it is the fair competition and playing field for all players that is essential for a sustainable system of innovation. Without shared common respect for civil, environmental, economic, and human rights of all stakeholders, socially sustainable value creation is quickly cannibalized by the opportunistic behavior of those who choose to game the system, versus ethically pursuing a more competitively advantaged system for all.