“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Designers are the enemy of Design — really?

Bruce Nussbaum from BusinessWeek published a talk he gave at the Parsons School of Design this past week. Are designers really the problem? Sounds like scapegoating to me.

In it he states that designers need to move away from “designing for” to “designing with”. Create tools that allow them to design their own experiences and let them be the better designers.

Wow! talk about falling into your own stuff. I mean didn’t we learn this lesson from the desktop publisher age? Seriously! I know we are in a participation economy and all and that is all well and good, but he complains that designers are too egotistical and arrogant and it is getting in our way. I just don’t see it that way. I see designers doing amazing things as designers, leading design with tremendous vision and it HAS been working.

The backlash as he calls it doesn’t seem to be effecting my world at all. I haven’t come across it and I don’t see it that way with my peers. I see design as a sought after commodity unlike every before both from process and methods. “Design thinking” is still in vogue and design jobs (real design jobs, not the ones from the 1990’s) are growing at a rapid clip all around the world.

If I see anything of a backlash at all, it is a scapegoating where things aren’t succeeding due to the limitations that the design role continues to face from most corporate culture. Corporations have not been willing to take the steps necessary to really bring design and designers into their culture, so they remain outsiders for the most part where the best of the best remain in consultancies and at best are brought in as advisers from the outside or fellows with their own dominion where they can’t really effect what is inside the castle keep.

On the flip side, I think that Bruce’s position on sustainability was actually one of the clearest I have seen and quite honestly gave me a real “ah-ha!” moment of finally understanding sustainability as part of the holistic nature of design. Cradle-to-cradle design needs to be an imperative for anyone designing products or systems that use physical entities and quite honestly if I have a digital system, then aren’t I in some way responsible for its effect on the carbon needed to use it.

Lots to think about for sure.

Anyway, enjoy the article!

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