Monday, May 02, 2005

Thinking like a designer

Not a day goes by that I don't employ my background at design/creative shops to address PR-related tasks. I have a special place in my professional heart for my former designer coworkers and the Macs, light tables, sketch paper and mounting boards that littered that life. Most of all I miss the focus on design when making decision and creating solutions. I uncovered an article on the Fast Company site today, "The Business of Design" and found myself saying, "yeah" out loud after almost every sentence.

The article contends that businesspeople need to think more like designers. I couldn't agree more. Companies need to view creativity and design not as icing on their capability cake, but as critical elements of philosophy and process.
Martin believes that business schools are also out of position for the emerging design-based economy. In his view, even the degree -- a master's of business administration -- is problematic. "We're telling students that the big bucks are made by administering linear improvements -- getting better and better at doing essentially the same thing," he says. "But the real challenge lies in getting better and better at a different thing: devising clever solutions to wickedly difficult problems."

How can the average company implement design think in the workplace? I have a few ideas:

  • Leverage the power of revision and collaboration - business has pigeonholed process as a means to an end instead of embracing the steps taken to reach an answer
  • Value ideas as much as results - the result is what is left of a good idea
  • Get to know the brand - designers live, feel and interact with a brand
  • Think big picture - do you know where your task goes after it leaves your desk?
  • Draw - putting together a presentation? a report? preliminary sketching will reveal the flaws and birth ideas


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