Design as strategy

My colleague David Wilson recently shared an article with me about the role design plays in successful business – The Direct Correlation Between Good Design And Business Growth – and it got me thinking.

The article is written from the standpoint of design as a creative discipline and starts with the assumption that many of us have that design is about aesthetics.

We have come to view the word design in this way because it has been related to the term ‘designer’. Coming from the world of fashion and interiors it is no wonder we associate it with the way things look.

But if you look up the definition of the word design in the Oxford English Dictionary, at least the 1980 concise edition I have, the first explanation is ‘Mental plan, scheme of attack.’. If you view design in this way it not only changes our view of what design is, it validates the role it can play in business and more to the point it gives the discipline of design and designers themselves much deserved recognition.

Because of the ‘designer’ tag I think the role of designer has been undervalued by society. When in fact the mental processes of design are an incredible skill that plainly create something pleasurable but are also formulated to achieve a goal.

How often have you heard ‘It’s the right result but I don’t like the way they got there.’ or ‘The means does not justify the end.’. I think we can all agree that the right outcome achieved well is what we would all want. It seems to me that is what good design is. A good or pleasing outcome achieved in a effective and pleasing way.

Which of us can lay claim to achieving our objectives in the same way? Not many and those that do outside of the world of design – in business or politics for instance – seem to get significant recognition for their intellectual endeavour as well as the beautiful outcome. Whereas with designers the focus is all to often on the artefact or the outcome and not on the intellectual endeavour.

So the ‘moral of this story’ is let’s all give good designers more credit for their intellectual integrity and ability.


Article by Rob Harrison