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Design Strategy

Design in 2019

2018 was a year with some personal changes. In November I switched jobs from KLM to head up Product Design at Takeaway.com.

In 2018 I read, discussed and talked a lot about Product Design roadmaps and Design teams. On building career paths and scaling the capability of designers within companies that are more and more driven by technology in every domain.

I believe digital design is moving through some of it break through years and how we organise as a design community, share and learn will deeply influence the future of our jobs. It’s so exciting to just look at the challenges ahead.

How the role of the designers changes/d

Agile: The agile movement pushed design towards Product Teams within companies, not just tech, but all companies dependent on tech. Let’s call it the ‘incremental movement’, which is not only for software, but also for hardware and life styles. Everything as a service, long time goals, short term plans.

Back to technology, by decentralising design it created space for centralised support functions as design system teams, design research and designOps. Moving teams in house, even for companies that exist despite of technology, not because of.

Marketing: The disconnect of Product Design from agencies and marketing departments continued. This is both good and bad.

It’s good because it helps Product Design to grow up, be independent, close to product and customers and a driver for making a better product and experience.

Agencies found new ways of operating and adding value delivering teams as a service, joint-ventures, training or some other hybrid form. It only works when you work together.

What’s bad about this disconnect is that a company is a collection of people, who all deliver value on a certain level. For a customer, product, sales and services are becoming a single thing, the experience.

What’s the difference between web and social? When is it service, marketing or sales? And who cares? The customer doesn’t, only departments do.

The companies that do well are companies that connect or integrate verticals best and are in some sense led by a clear vision or goal. Where they use customer feedback to steer. A learning system.

Integration: Marketing is becoming product, product is becoming marketing, service is product and product is service. The digital split between touch points is evaporating.

Online stores are opening retail stores, why? Because once you start integrating both online (web, app, social, smart sensors) and offline (location, experience, people) there is a lot of additional value you can deliver.

We’re moving towards a system (brand) that delivers an experience. How you organise this behind the curtains makes all the difference.

Back to design

As a result design is getting out of control of a single group. There is no single experience anymore. It’s the a collection of interactions. Beyond the control of a person or department.

A lot of people get involved in the process of design. Through design sprints, business model design or some sort of a proposition canvas. It’s based on design values.

This image by Ideo ages very well: https://twitter.com/openideo/status/747564693678587904

This is why this is such an interesting time for Design. We can be the glue, between people, business and technology and contribute on a different more strategic level in companies.

That’s why it’s about the scaling of principles. Look at the overall experience and see how something small can have a big impact.

For me it’s most like a city. What makes a great city? It’s not control. It’s culture, rules or lack of rules, opportunities, safety. No single person or organisation controls the city, everyone contributes.

The big question is. How do you build a great city?