Design, in short, is becoming an ever more important engine of corporate profit: It’s no longer enough simply to outperform the competition; to thrive in a world of ceaseless and rapid change, businesspeople have to outimagine the competition as well. They must begin to think–to become–more like designers.
Even as design gets its due, however, some business types wish the clock could be turned back to a time before all those designers were running around urging people to let their creative juices flow. And they resent that even as design is forced upon them or insinuated into their work, the designers themselves are often not held accountable for meeting firm revenue and profit targets–the primary form of business discipline.
How we train people to constructively bridge that tension is the key to sustained competitive advantage:
Managing the yin and yang of business-as-usual and business-by-design means striking a balance between any number of countervailing impulses: Give people the freedom to follow their nose, but hold them accountable for their performance. Set a high bar, but recognize that failure is an unavoidable consequence of pushing into new territory. Do everything possible not just to thrill your customers but also to wring costs and efficiencies out of vendors and suppliers. The biggest challenge for all of us, designers and businesspeople alike, is to become equally adept at quantifying the now and intuiting what’s next. There’s simply no other way to win.
So, where are the government programs – like all the (necessary) math and science education programs – to facilitate the creative new business-design thinking and education?