The Secret of Apple and Dyson
Many talk about the success of Apple and their unprecedented dominance in the digital hardware space but what exactly was it that Apple did to create this kind of success and why aren’t more companies following suit? It is more simple than you might think but true implementation within big business is rare.
The Discovery of Design Thinking
The integration of design thinking in businesses began in the 90’s as design became a recognised means of growth and differentiation. Schools in Melbourne and around the globe discovered ‘design thinking’ and as corporations embraced the new direction there was hope in every designer's eye that it would truly be integrated within corporate management. Unfortunately this only played out in a select group of companies who share their profiles with the likes of Apple and Dyson.
Companies like Apple took a holistic approach to business development and recognised the importance design plays within the corporate structure. Not only did Apple implement design strategies that placed people at the forefront of product development but they established an organisational structure that placed designers and creatives in senior, decision making roles. This ensured the business focus remained on the product and people and not on corporate greed and growth.
‘D-washing’ - Pretending to Design
Many companies have tried to follow Apple's lead but not many have been able to achieve the same level of success. This is often due to something called ‘D-washing’, like greenwashing, this is the perception that a company integrates design into its philosophy when in reality it only commits to a watered down version.
‘D-washing’ occurs at two fundamental levels. Firstly at the product design level, this is when a company believes that it designs when it doesn’t. They may have engaged design thinking or designers to conceptualise an idea but not listened to the creative. Instead they follow the advice from corporate management who, in reality, are not aware of the products and people's requirements.
Secondly ‘D-washing’ sees the exclusion of real designers and innovators from corporate leadership roles. If design is recognised as a necessary inclusion at the corporate level more often than not this role will be filled by a design thinking trained MBA, not a designer. Leaving designers, the people really capable of inciting change, without a voice at the highest levels.
Design for Growth