Nussbaum says design thinking must be integral part of business

Ignorant designers have been singled out as one of the biggest obstacles facing design last week by one of the leading commentators on design and innovation in the US, Bruce Nussbaum.


Ignorant designers have been singled out as one of the biggest obstacles facing design last week by one of the leading commentators on design and innovation in the US, Bruce Nussbaum.


In a keynote speech given at the Royal College of Art’s annual Innovation Night on Tuesday last week, the assistant managing editor of Business Week concluded by saying, ‘The two biggest barriers to innovation are ignorant chief executives and ignorant designers’.


Nussbaum suggested that undergraduate designers need to expose themselves to the tangible, everyday challenges facing the outside world, rather than rely solely on abstract, college-based learning.


He went on to say that design, innovation and technology are merging at such speed that it is pointless to try to classify disciplines.


‘You may as well call [the phenomenon] a banana,’ Nussbaum says.


Speaking to an audience comprising design practitioners, academics, students and the media, Nussbaum reiterated some of the prominent issues affecting design and innovation, as well as social trends that influence global business, including sustainability and social networking.


The US business community, he says, still associates design with cosmetic change, rather than practical problem-solving, technology and innovation.


‘This is something that needs to change. Design is “the” way of reaching the consumer populace,’ he says.


Nussbaum says solutions to the issues affecting business will only emerge if design thinking becomes integral to the way a business operates. Managers and chief executives, he says, need to become designers, not just hire them.


Commenting on the lecture, Professor Jeremy Myerson, director of the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre and one of the key organisers of Innovation Night, says, ‘The big take-out for me was his assertion that managers need to become designers, rather than designers become managers.


‘It was great to have him come over and speak at RCA Innovation Night. He is at the cutting edge in terms of understanding how US business models are now in meltdown,’ adds Myerson.

Hide Comments (1)Show Comments (1)
Comments
  • RitaSue Siegel November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Jeremy Myerson’s summation of Bruce Nussbaum’s talk at RCA, ‘”He is at the cutting edge in terms of understanding how US business models are now in meltdown,’ is inaccurate if he means to imply something negative. Many US businesses have integrated designers into the management ranks of their organizations and design thinking has indeed penetrated many organizations with obviously good results. Some examples are Hewlett Packard, Cisco.com, Whirlpool and countless others. From our observation post as headhunters, we know that US business is headed in the right direction and that there is a greater demand for designers who can lead than there is the supply. But that has always been true. No matter the increase in the number of design graduates each year, the number of those able to help CEO’s transform into design thinkers is very small. And, let’s face it, many designers were intrigued by the field so that they could learn how to make ‘eye candy.’ Unfortunately we have not the vocabulary, as the Inuit supposedly have to describe every type of snow, to talk about every type of design. Bruce is my hero.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles

Remembering Jon Daniel: 1966-2017

We look back on the life and work of the Design Week columnist, independent creative director and social activist “who helped put black participation on the political map”.