Wanted: VPs of Design

30 Aug 2007 - 9:11pm
6 years ago
5 replies
644 reads
Dan Saffer
2003

From BusinessWeek:

<http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/aug2007/
id20070829_407662.htm?chan=rss_topEmailedStories_ssi_5>

"Today more companies are welcoming designers to the executive level.
"There's been a big change in the number of VPs of design compared
with just three years ago," says Peter Lawrence, director of the
Boston-based Corporate Design Foundation. IBM (IBM), Hewlett-Packard
(HPQ), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) have all appointed vice-presidents
of design in the past couple of years; Nike (NKE), Apple (AAPL), and
other design-savvy companies have recognized design at the executive
level for much longer."

Comments

30 Aug 2007 - 9:48pm
russwilson
2005

I just caught this article as well and forwarded it to several
execs I know... :-)

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Dan
Saffer
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:11 PM
To: IXDA list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Wanted: VPs of Design

From BusinessWeek:

<http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/aug2007/
id20070829_407662.htm?chan=rss_topEmailedStories_ssi_5>

"Today more companies are welcoming designers to the executive level.
"There's been a big change in the number of VPs of design compared
with just three years ago," says Peter Lawrence, director of the
Boston-based Corporate Design Foundation. IBM (IBM), Hewlett-Packard
(HPQ), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) have all appointed vice-presidents
of design in the past couple of years; Nike (NKE), Apple (AAPL), and
other design-savvy companies have recognized design at the executive
level for much longer."

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31 Aug 2007 - 3:07am
Dave Malouf
2005

Many companies have exec level designers. That doesn't guarantee that
design is done correctly.

One of the questions in the article is where do these executive type
designers come from. There is an implicit assumption in the article
that you can only be a real executive if you have an MBA or you have
explicit business background. In my experience, executives who reach
this level are good at it more due to experience in management than
in education. I realize there is education necessary, but this should
be part of the mentorship that many organizations already set up as
the career path leading up to it.

but if we must go this direction, there are design management
programs out there like Pratt, Parsons, and IIT/ID that have strong
finance and business admin aspects to them.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=19965

31 Aug 2007 - 5:57am
Mark Schraad
2006

Curious if anyone else has had an issue with comments at Business
Week? I commented yesterday morning when I read this... and it does
not show. I know it is moderated, but a 24 hour delay seems a bit
much for daily changing news.

Mark

On Aug 31, 2007, at 4:07 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> Many companies have exec level designers. That doesn't guarantee that
> design is done correctly.
>
> One of the questions in the article is where do these executive type
> designers come from. There is an implicit assumption in the article
> that you can only be a real executive if you have an MBA or you have
> explicit business background. In my experience, executives who reach
> this level are good at it more due to experience in management than
> in education. I realize there is education necessary, but this should
> be part of the mentorship that many organizations already set up as
> the career path leading up to it.
>
> but if we must go this direction, there are design management
> programs out there like Pratt, Parsons, and IIT/ID that have strong
> finance and business admin aspects to them.
>
> -- dave
>

31 Aug 2007 - 11:35am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Many companies have exec level designers. That doesn't guarantee that
> design is done correctly.

No one said it did. It just means that some companies are apparently making
design a higher priority, and that's a good thing.

-r-

1 Sep 2007 - 12:51pm
Fredrik Matheson
2005

When a school turns out a great designer, that person is great at
designing. Making great design happen requires additional skills.

Courses that team design, business and engineering (etc) students
connect budding designers to new milieux and help paint a more
complete picture of how design and business happen. Domain-specific
courses like technology entrepreneurship, etc. offer broader insights
to the domain we'll be designing in/for.

In a corporate setting, your design – good or bad – is subject to
different forces than is the case when working with a small client.
Special skills are needed to make design happen here and they include
financial insight, negotiation skills, small-talk, meeting management,
building consensus and so on.

I've learned a bit about those skills from superb project managers.
They have a knack for finding the right people, understanding their
needs and working with them, even if they're far from friendly.
Through this I've seen projects change briefs, budgets be re-allocated
and staff added and removed without conflict, and the budget has
always been under control.

Not everyone gets to work with these stellar people. Most Scandinavian
and UK design companies have a staff of 1–7 people (1,2). Here in
Norway, a 10-person design shop is almost a powerhouse. Small studios
can turn out amazing designs but lack good (project) managers, either
because they can't afford them or because the owners won't relinquish
control.

I'm glad to see this topic being dealt with in BusinessWeek. Now if
only more designers read BusinessWeek ;-)

- Fredrik

(1) http://www.britishdesign.co.uk/index.php?page=newsservice/view&news_id=4854
(2) http://www.step.no/design/Future_in_Design.pdf

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