What Business doesn’t know about Design.

More and more often, I’m finding articles in popular business periodicals about the value of Design. For example, Business Week has been giving out design awards for at least two years and Design is one of Fast Company’s “themes.”

…not that they’re all getting it exactly, but at least they’re finally thinking about it. Let’s face it, for most Suits, Design is nothing more than visual creativity. In fact, that exact phrase appears in the heading of Fast Company’s Design theme page.

Before you get upset, be reminded that cultural change happens slowly and that we’ve already got a management guru on our side doing his part to speed up the recognition of Design’s value proposition in the Business community. His name is Tom Peters.

Tom recently spoke at the DMI Summit Conference in New York. Apparently, he suggested “men couldn’t really design effectively for women.” Darrel Rhea, who spoke before Peters at the conference, takes Peters to task in his article, “Designing for Aliens: What management guru and design advocate Tom Peters needs to learn about managing design,” arguing not only that point, but doing a damn fine job of describing a value proposition that only Design can bring to Business: “the act of uncovering, defining or clarifying the dimensions of human experience related to a product.”

While complaining about Business not understanding the value of Design is nothing new, my situation, that is, my personal understanding of the situation is…and it’s deeply troubling because the Design community seems to have gotten REAL quiet about this recently. (Shout out to Paula for keepin’ the dream alive.) I feel like most of us have forgotten all that talk about how Design should have a place at the table with the CEO, the CFO, the CIO and all the other C_O’s. Those arguments are still valid and we still want our seat, damn it!

So what’s up? Why are we so quiet? Are we simply happy in our roles as practitioners? Do we, as a community, not understand the benefits of having a position at that level? Am I missing the point completely? Talk to me, people!

3 thoughts on “What Business doesn’t know about Design.”

  1. I just want to make things easier and pleasurable to use. <whisper>Honestly, I don’t want to think about the business aspects of my work, but don’t tell anyone I told you that.</whisper>

  2. I don’t think every designer needs to be concerned or even interested in business, design management, etc. I’m just surprised more of us aren’t, given all the complaining we do about not being in positions of enough power in our organizations.

    I’m going to file Joshua’s comment under “happy in his role as a practitioner.”

  3. When I was graphic designer there were people content to stay hands on, while others aspired be art directors. As long as you understood the trade-offs of each road, you were fine.

    But I agree there’s a disconnect between the complaints of many UX practitioners about not having positions of power in the organization and their seeming uninterest in learning about business and management issues.

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