Cisco’s move to hire Grinyer puts design centre stage

Lynda Relph-Knight

Clive Grinyer’s move from Orange to Cisco is great news indeed (see News, page 3). Not only does it give Grinyer – one of the UK’s staunchest champions of in-house design – a new challenge, it reaffirms the potential of senior design players to shape companies and organisations as well as objects and communications.

When he joins Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group in May, Grinyer will effectively become a management consultant helping his employer’s potential clients formulate new visions for their enterprises. There may be nothing new in this from the viewpoint of consultancies like, say, McKinsey & Company, but very few big businesses have yet recognised at top level the importance of customer experience and the ability of a designer to deliver the thinking required.

The move bodes well too for the Government-backed bid to boost the standing of the creative industries in business. In his address at the launch of the Design Blueprint report devised by the Design Skills Advisory Panel, a joint venture between Creative & Cultural Skills and the Design Council, Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, spoke of the ‘shared responsibility’ of design, Government and clients to identify what skills are needed to enable the UK to see off overseas competition through creativity (see News, page 4).

‘Skills’ isn’t the best word to apply to design, which is more about professional development than enhancing craft skills. But Rammell’s message is nonetheless sound. If great design is about teamwork rather than individual excellence, the client has to be one of the key collaborators – Design Week’s newly instituted Hall of Fame was set up to recognise this.

Cisco’s move not only reinforces Rammell’s view. It puts design at the heart of its business in a role that is way beyond craft. The model it creates could become as exemplary as Apple’s focus on innovation, beauty and detail in its design. Let’s hope so.

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