Decade of Design

08 Jun 2005|Terri Ducay

It is professionally gratifying to know that this is the “Decade of Design.” I just returned from the Design Management Institute (DMI) Brand Design Conference, where speakers like Bruce Nussbaum, Editorial Page Editor of Business Week, describes designers as being the new consulting gurus of the 21st century. When companies like Procter & Gamble and General Electric, call on designers to take the lead in transforming their companies, this signifies a big shift in how corporate America is beginning to think. Good bye Six Sigma, hello Designer.

Why the shift? Why are design conversations taking place in CEO offices? Well, there are several reasons given by Nussbaum:

We are moving from a knowledge economy that is dominated by technology to an economy that needs to understand and empathize with consumers. There is a need for focusing not solely on products or services but also on the experiences consumers have with them. Innovation is needed in how companies organize themselves in order to shape customer experiences in new ways.

These reasons all leverage skill sets owned by designers. Designers excel at making order out of complexity. This is because designers think generatively, we are drawn to exploration, we are good listeners and observers, we know how to synthesize information, and we know how to visualize that information for others to understand and engage with.

The work being done in Cheskin’s Design Strategy Group has enabled many of our clients, from MSFT to GAP to identify patterns and frame insights that have led to new ways of looking at complex business problems and seeing new opportunities. They join the P&Gs and GEs in using design as the new consulting gurus.

So I come away from the DMI conference thrilled because this is the Decade of Design, my decade. I also came away thankful that I did not listen to Mom when she told me to go to business school.

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