Why designers and the business world need to understand each other

John Oswald

Design Week:

John Oswald, business design lead at Fjord, talks about the mutual benefits designers and clients can gain from adapting to each other’s ways of thinking. 

© ugde via iStock

If you’re reading Design Week, then chances are you already know a thing or two about how design can re-wire a business and transform the way it communicates with its customers and employees.

Designers are now playing a much bigger role and solving problems across many companies – we’re achieving strategic outcomes, rather than just creating beautiful things.

It’s the reason why so many big consultancies have been snapping up design firms in recent years. My own employer, Accenture Interactive bought Fjord in 2013 and went on to consolidate all of its design and innovation units under the Fjord banner.

Designers understand customers

But, while the trend for design moving up the business agenda is in full flow, many senior decision makers still have a way to go before they catch up.

They’ll certainly recognise the challenges that are behind design’s rise. The rate of digital innovation is moving faster than ever before and a business can find itself out of step within a matter of weeks, not years.

Who would have known five years ago the effect Airbnb would have on the hotel sector or the impact Nest would have on home heating and security? Keeping ahead of disruption means gaining a new depth of understanding of customers and their increasingly fluid expectations. That’s something designers have always excelled at.

Design is still regarded as an aesthetic discipline

Despite this, so many in the business world still don’t understand what design is and how it can impact a business. Design is regarded as an aesthetic discipline and not something that belongs at the highest level of corporate culture.

So how can we rectify this? If more and more significant decision makers are looking to design to solve problems, then there needs to be a greater degree of self-reflection on both sides to help bridge the gulf.

Read the full article on Design Week.  

John Oswald

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