Fast Company

The Business of Design

Lots of companies are now discovering what Target, Pottery Barn, BMW, and Apple knew all along: Great design is a strategic advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

That's good news for folks comfortable with the principles and language of design. But where does that leave the people whose business would benefit from an infusion of design moxie, but who don't have a clue on how to get any of their own?

Steve Kroeter aims to help. Kroeter, founder of the design education firm Design Paradigm, and author of DESIGNnewyork, a reference guidebook to all things design-driven in New York City, has put together a week-long course in design for managers who aren't designers, but have to be able to talk like one in the workplace.

Design 101 will draw from New York's all-star community of design pros in an array of areas -- fashion, architecture, product design, graphics, and more. It's a chance for managers of all experience levels to learn to see visually in a more strategic way and to communicate more effectively in the design arena with colleagues, clients, and customers.

Kroeter's on to something big. Design literacy will be increasingly important in the future, and those who are bilingual in business and design will have a leg up on their less erudite peers. Besides, with profs like Valerie Steele and Steven Heller, and field trips to places like Pentagram, Ecco Design, Perry Ellis, Robert A.M. Stern architects, and Milton Glaser Inc., the course sounds like the most fun you can have and still write it off as "exec ed."

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10 Comments

  • ambrelio

    The design can be of the organizational structure or product related activities and it helps the organisation to stay in present with an eye on future trends and needs.. and hence emphasis on design is necessary as it turns the organization to a proactive organism. If design is integrated in to the core functions of the organization, it becomes difficult for others to copy which leads to a sustainable competitive advantage in this madly competitive world.

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    http://jeuxastuces.chez.tiscal...

  • C. Sven Johnson

    It is perhaps worth noting that the companies cited above are often used as examples of good design in the "fashion, architecture, product design, graphics, and more" sense; as opposed to the "organizational" sense. I point this out only to call attention to the broad application of the word itself and to suggest that perhaps businesses have traditionally focused on design in the business sense as opposed to the humanistic sense. After all, that's why this service is receiving our attention - it's unusual.

    I suspect there are any number of companies that have had outstanding organizational design but to their detriment either neglected, misunderstood, or deemed insignificant the humanistic qualities for which some companies such as Apple have been sometimes chided. On more than one occassion I've heard business team members within such companies use the comment "it doesn't really matter" during product development; whether it be in regard to the cheap electrical cord attached to the product or the product packaging beyond what is visible on the shelf. I've always found that to be an exasperating comment. In an increasingly competitive world, certainly everything matters. And if a compromise is made, it is only because it mattered less in the heirarchy of priorities and not because it simply didn't matter or wasn't sufficiently understood by decision-makers.

    My sincere hope is that a service such as Design 101 will point this issue out to those who may never fully (or even remotely) understand humanistic design, but who can at least appreciate that Design is not truly integrated into an organization until all functions and services are filtered through the eyes of the consumer.

  • DI Incorporated

    Communicating effectively in the design arena, or in any profession providing a service, is key to sustaining any competitive edge - But only once you have mastered your craft.

    A week-long course in design for managers who aren't designers is a start, and should be applauded. Now who will take the lead in developing a "course" specifically bridging Contractors and Architects - and that is mandatory?

  • Jason Faber

    Design literacy is a big problem, and an even bigger problem is when decision makers within an organization cannot "see" how design is very much part of the overal business strategy.

    Anything that can train or influence the philosophy of decision maker's in seeing how design is paramount to the success of their company, their product and their brand-- get's an A in my book.

    However, design in marketing can only be as effective as the design in product development. Moreover, effective design in product devlopment and effective design in marketing will recieve exponential results.

    Let's hope Steve doesn't put the cart before the horse.

  • Jason Faber

    Design literacy is a big problem, and an even bigger problem is when decision makers within an organization cannot "see" how design is very much part of the overal business strategy.

    Anything that can train or influence the philosophy of decision maker's in seeing how design is paramount to the success of their company, their product and their brand-- get's an A in my book.

    However, design in marketing can only be as effective as the design in product development. Moreover, effective design in product devlopment and effective design in marketing will recieve exponential results.

    Let's hope Steve doesn't put the cart before the hourse.

  • Rani Sowmya Latha N

    Design plays an important role as it aids in creating a competitive advantage.. The design can be of the organizational structure or product related activities and it helps the organisation to stay in present with an eye on future trends and needs.. and hence emphasis on design is necessary as it turns the organization to a proactive organism. If design is integrated in to the core functions of the organization, it becomes difficult for others to copy which leads to a sustainable competitive advantage in this madly competitive world.

  • derekt

    Now if we could only put something together to bridge the gap between IT and Creative . . . IT has the tools that can save Creative plenty of time in execution, but they typically lack the knowledge and sensitivity needed to present and support the tools. dst

  • Chris Houchens

    Whenever I present "marketing 101" to potential clients or in a live presentation, I always lead off with the same "P"...PRODUCT.

    The product is the basis of all marketing and business activities. Many organizations have strayed away/forgotten/ignored that very basic premise. They're too caught up in making up useless campaigns to impress their peers instead of selling and nurturing the market.

    The better your product (or service) is (whether that's in design, prodictivity, etc) the better you'll be able to market and the more successful it will be