Cutting down working hours needs planning

James Souttar (Letters, DW 29 November) and Jonathan Sands (News, DW 22 November) are both right in their own ways. The design profession has to be business-focused and customer oriented in making whatever effort is required to meet project deadlines. And no matter how well a project is planned there are times when long hours are required – often because the client or the design consultancy is disorganised, or the consultancy is afraid to say no and challenge unrealistic demands. However, unless we aim to organise time out and space to recharge ourselves, both client and designer will eventually dry up.

Part of the solution is through the use of effective, planned, design management processes and trained staff rather than relying solely on “on the job” experience. Clients and consultancies are getting better in this respect, but too slowly. Wendy Powell (Letters, DW 29 November) is right to highlight the need for designers who are more worldly wise in the commercial realities of their chosen profession.

Design and design management students need to have the basic skills first. That’s the foundation on which to build communication skills, commercial awareness and an understanding of business processes, project management and IT. I see too many design students asking for placements who shouldn’t be on degree courses because they fail the basic skills quality test.

The design profession needs people who are good team players and have a strong viewpoint – clones won’t bring the freshness that youth should offer. Older members of the profession who are in a position to offer placements and jobs should relish the vitality that these youngsters can offer and cherish it.

In the day-to-day running of our businesses we need to balance the realities of today with creating something for tomorrow. That’s the difference between design management – which is strategic in intent – and managing design, which is usually project-oriented and operationally focused.

David Griffiths

Design manager

Royal Mail

London EC1

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