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Design- the neglected differentiator

October 8, 2010


Umair Haque appears to be fighting a one man war with corporate America over their lack of insight and creativity.

He’s frequently ranting about its myopia and lack of soul and today he’s decided to tackle the topic of creativity.

Taking the controversy surrounding the Gap logo as his starting point, he’s written a brilliant post that suggests design is the missing X factor in corporate success and missed because the beancounters see it as a “soft” discipline.

Here’s Umair’s checklist to see if your corporation gets design, is a good one.

1. Do designers have a seat in the boardroom-or just in the basement-How often does your CEO talk to a designer?

2. Are designers empowered to overrule beancounters- or visa versa?

3. Is the input of designers considered to be peripheral to “real” business decisions or does it play a vital role in shaping them? Is design treated as a function or a competence?

4. Are designers seen as just mechanics of mere stuff- or as vital contributors to the art of igniting new markets and categories, sparking more enduring demand. building trust, providing empathy, and seeding tomorrow’s big ideas?

5. How much weight does senior management give to right-brained ideas, like delight, amazement, intuition and joy? Just a little, a lot- or, as for most companies, almost none?

There’s been a lot of talk about a design revolution in America, but Umair suggests it might be happening for the consumer in the retail space, but it’s not happening far and wide across the country.

With American brands looking for edge and differentiation, design is the way to get there. Ignore it at your peril, but the design community needs to do a much better job of demonstrating their ROI to convince the beancounters that their stuff can work.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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