“We need a designer. You need a designer. We all need designers. I agree, we all need designers. But I’d argue that we already have them. They’re us: you and me. Design shouldn’t be designated a specific function or industry. The discipline is just as fundamental as technology and profit are to a business that it doesn’t need to be isolated to a single role. It should be considered part of every role.”
This quote from Fast Company’s Sahil Lavingia, social media creative site Pinterest’s founding designer and mastermind, is proof of the trend that “creativity and design” are terms no longer reserved solely for the art world. They are now being seen as the threads that run through business, whether employees are improving the usability of a Web site, writing a blogpost or creating a new product. The catalyst? Rapidly changing technology that calls for design thinking to stand out and out-perform.
Lavingia, in his article for Fast Company, credits design with shrinking the gap between a product’s job and its purpose, therefore, creating the need for employees who think like designers, no matter their role. This “design literacy,” as Lavingia calls it, results in a profound thoughtfulness that leads to good decision-making.
Nicholas Callaway, of Callaway Digital Arts, an app development and publishing company, looks for just these qualities in new hires.
“I see a profound shift in the sensibility and the talent set of the next generation,” he said recently in an interview with Digital Book World. “The creator of the future is someone who is both trained and has a sensibility that cuts across many disciplines that used to be not only distinct from each other but also antithetical from each other.”
Interestingly, Callaway sees his own job as blending the creative talents of both his artists and his technologists. Because, he says, “they are equally creative.”
I doubt that without this design literacy already running rampant through companies like Pixar and Apple, we would have exquisite movies like Finding Nemo or ridiculously usable devices like the iPad. Now this trend is spreading like wildfire.
Becoming a Design Thinker
Any person or organization can benefit from thinking like a designer. The first step is to harness your powers of observation and focus them on the problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re unhappy with your logo, spend a day looking at logos online or browsing Communication Arts and begin bookmarking design elements you find effective. If you’re looking to solve a problem of traffic flow through your retail store, install a video camera at a high vantage point and record a few day’s worth of foot traffic. Play back the tape at high speed and observe how people flow in, around and through your business.
Cultivate Your Design Advantage
From your organization’s inner workings to visual presentation of your online videos, your organization deserves to be well designed. “Above all, Lavingia says, [design] is about viewing the world around you as a place filled with opportunities to add more thoughtfulness and care.”