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Big data and rapid technological development pose a myriad of challenges to giant firms to start-ups alike—and design can help surmount them through its ability to disrupt. That was the conclusion of the Disruption x Design panel concluded on Wednesday at Brainstorm Design, the Fortune, Time and Wallpaper* conference held in Singapore.

“For me, start-ups equal disruption,” says Charles Hayes, a partner and executive managing director of innovation consultancy firm IDEO in Asia, who has been based in Shanghai for the last nine years. “This is a world where you have young leaders who don’t necessarily have a deep expertise in a field, but are asking really big and bold questions,” says Hayes.

Hayes has worked to incorporate design-thinking in China both from top-down and the bottom-up, by advising Chinese executives and developing design education programs in the finance, design, and art schools of Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

In China, Hayes observes that design and start-ups have had a “decentralizing” cultural effect, with some areas “really benefiting, this ability to have platforms and a level of seamlessness—whether its payments or something else,” Hayes adds. “It greases the wheels for other start-ups.”

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