I’ve borrowed Tasos‘ title from his series on the power of design on the Design Directory because it seemed so apropos to an interesting conversation I had yesterday evening with an old friend of mine.
She’s currently in San Francisco on work and we’d met over drinks to catch up on stuff – she’s been promoted recently to Asst. VP level at Wells Fargo, based in Chicago and at the same time she’s finishing her part time MBA at Kellogg [Northwestern]. I’m sharing her background because her reaction to the word "design" was an eye opener for me.
She asked about my work and I said that I’m focusing on strategies for entering emerging markets, particularly focusing on stuff like how value can be communicated across cultures etc. I must have used the word design in some context because in between talk of brands, BRIC and market opportunities she says "Design? Oh I couldn’t do all that, I’m focusing on marketing strategy and brand management" [Kellogg is a top school in this area]
So I said that is what I’m talking about, marketing and strategy and managing your brand image and your product introductions when you enter a foreign market. She said yeah but you said something about design, what’s that all about? I brushed it off and told her not to worry about that word, she already knew what the stuff was about.
It was then that I realized how much of a barrier the word design is for those outside the industry itself. I’ve touched upon this before, last year when I was writing about collaborative intelligence or multidisciplinary teams but it had been conjecture then.
For my friend has travelled the world, she was born in Swaziland when her father was with the Indian Embassy in Mozambique, speaks Portuguese from her time in Brazil, lived in Finland and is currently an AVP at a major bank. My talk of emerging markets, crossing cultures, communicating quality and value across borders – all of it made perfect sense to her. Except for the word design.
So… I’ve decided to try an experiment. I’m going to write about the stuff I normally write about but I’m going to attempt to do so without using the word design or design thinking or even for that matter, MBA speak. Lets see if the same concepts can be said in regular english…