Ever since Tim Brown dropped the Design as Strategy meme, the business world has been waking up to what we designers knew all along: Good design=Good business. While why it is more important than ever can be looked at from many perspectives, the fact that it actually IS is a no-brainer.
We are more and more likely to focus on its importance living more and more immersed in VirtuReality, so what does that mean for Design Thinkers and Design Professionals? More importantly, what does that mean for organizations who needs the knowledge capital of design to create its competitive advantage?
Being a designer at my core, I've seen my own career mature through the following transition first hand, and this is what I've observed:
Design 1.0: Attention
In the mass communication era, the primary advantage of design was grabbing attention. Visual aesthetics defined design, and designers were introduced into the mix after the strategic heavy lifting was already managed. Design set trends that influenced visual sensibilities of particular eras. Think about the iconography of the 20th century, like 20's Art Deco, 40's Hollywood, 50's Kitsch, 60's Flower Power, 70's Disco, and 80's Nagel prints and Miami Vice, 90's Hip Hop, etc...
Design 2.0: Interaction
In the post Cluetrain era of the connection economy, we realized how taking human usability factors into account can disrupt markets like the iPod did. Suddenly, interaction drove the design and measuring everything from web traffic to prescription labels mattered. Design is no longer just about looks, it's about engaging people.
Design 3.0: Integration
As heatmaps, sentiment analytics and even the design of the building blocks become second nature in considering design solutions, the real question becomes about design's relevance to the ecosystem. Design becomes more than just the front end "skinning" of the thought product or service, but rather part of the thought process to arrive at creating itself. Will your idea consider business model, brand and competitive strategy with design considerations at the onset, or will it do it after the fact. Can you really afford post-strategy design? Probably not.
While this post may seem self-serving, my honest intent is not that. I truly think that the quality of our thinking will directly affect the quality of life we all enjoy. Design is no longer for "designers", it is a Whole New Mindset for all of us to design the future we want for ourselves. Thoughts?