Design + Community = Design Authority

As the World Cup kicked off, a group of design leaders met in San Francisco for an informal dinner. The Design Authority is a new collective that brings together some of the world’s most respected designers, strategists and thinkers to exchange ideas, build a network and to inspire each other.

Now that the position of Chief Design Officer on the board is becoming as important as the CEO’s in determining business strategies, an informal and stimulating meeting of the best minds in the design sector is more welcome than ever.

So what was on the agenda when folk from Intuit, Khosla, Here, NetApp, GreatSchools, Square, bgC3, Walmart, GoPro, Method, Great Fridays and other key influencers in the industry met up?

We all fight to raise awareness of the importance and impact of design

Whether through benchmarking, working with behavioural scientists, surveys and data tracking to make a case within an engineer-driven organisation, or pushing for design to be on the board in an organisation that’s becoming more connected and more complex, it’s clear that there’s a change happening.

Clearer design career paths are essential

Organisations should build clear career growth paths for designers. Most non-agencies have few creatives and they’re pigeonholed into a marketing career structure.

Designers are usually best at their craft but also need help in how to better communicate the value they bring to a business. Talking about fonts, colours, and personality to a VP who isn’t a designer can perpetuate the misconception that design is about  simply surface and decoration.

A wider conversation about how design, words, and images resonate with a user and can lead to prospects and sales, is a much richer and more valuable exchange.

We need to share what’s working in this emerging area of practice: the design of business itself

As we see disruption everywhere in media and entertainment, retail, connected products, finance, education, healthcare, and communications, we need to challenge long-standing business assumptions and move the design conversation into the mainstream. That’s the challenge for the Design Authority.

To finish, a quote from one attendee who we thought summed up the evening really well:

Despite all the blogs, articles and feeds we all read, there is no substitute for face-to-face time with like-minded people that are discussing design and the challenges that come with it. One cannot help walking away inspired, energised and proud to be part of this community.”


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