When innovations, new processes or products are developed in German industries, designers are called upon after all major decisions because, after all, an innovation can’t look ugly. That’s far too late.
Of course, every small and medium-sized company has already held a token Design Thinking Workshop – and this has become part of good business practice. However, this has changed little in the thinking silos of most companies. There is no talking with each other, but a talking down from hierarchical level to hierarchical level – and in the worst case (badly) about each other. Whether R&D, strategy, marketing, quality management, finance, manufacturing, etc. everyone works on the tasks that management dictates. And finally, when all KPIs have been met and the board gives the go-ahead, designers are brought in to give the whole thing shape. But by then it’s already too late, because important decisions were made falsely, and they misjudged the market – because the accelerating design guidance in the process was missing. So, developments take far too long and »time to market« becomes an »eternity to market.«
Designers are not just dressing something up, but holistic, comprehensive thinkers
I believe: Instead of imposing design thinking methods on people who have a completely different mindset and objectives in their organization, companies should involve designers as partners in their development processes much earlier. After all, designers are not just dressing something up, but holistic, comprehensive thinkers who can play a moderating role in any development process. They combine the view from the inside with the view from the outside and think in haptic solution approaches – they always have the people in mind, not the production facilities. In the end, this results in products and services that people like to use and therefore also like to buy.
More and more companies are opening to strategically courageous decisions
If you look at Silicon Valley or Shenzhen, you will see that they have been working in this way for 15 years. Teamwork between companies, partners and even competitors is normal if it promises speed and serves the success of the project. And designers are not only to be found in creative services or the design department but are an integral part of most development teams. Many of them are external.
Especially from Asia, there have been increasing requests in recent years to integrate German designers into their processes. In China and Korea, it is believed that the contribution of (German) designers has a high value. No mention needs to be made here of the speed of the Chinese market and its innovative strength.
But what about Germany? Fortunately, the client culture in Germany is currently changing more and more of our clients are opening to design-driven creation processes, are more open to strategically courageous decisions and collaborative work, coworking processes and co-creations. That’s where the journey is taking us.