October 1, 2012
"The lack of insight overall was palpable."

I wasn’t at the recent Global Design Forum, but judging from the reviews, I didn’t miss much, even as the event itself apparently missed its moment to make a mark. Richard Eisermann has a good review, in which he bemoans the missed opportunity: 

The Global Design Forum, held on 18 September in London, was billed as “one day to set the global agenda for design”. It fell well short of this lofty ambition. It was about design, yes, but it wasn’t particularly global and it certainly wasn’t a forum.

The tart observation above actually comes from a comment on Eisermann’s piece from Nico Macdonald. In it, he nails some of the topics I’ve been thinking about for years:

My contribution to the debate (and I was one of the few able to speaker from the floor in the limited time) was to observe that while design thinking had been originated by designers it has now been taken over by management consultants and other people in professional services, partly because it was a loose concept that was able to be adopted by others. I noted that speakers such as Tom Dixon were not able to properly interpret the data they presented. And Charles Leadbeater’s forecasting was so impressionistic he considered it could be done by talking to his 12-year-old-son.

In a context in which many designers find it so difficult to grapple with other domains I asked the speakers what’s one thing designers needed to do, or do better, to ‘step up to the plate’ and be taken seriously in the boardroom.

Suffice it to say, many of the designers at the event were not able to step up and answer him satisfactorily. And this, right here, seems to be the major obstacle facing the design industry and its continued quest to be integrated into the highest echelons of business. Just wishing it will not make it so.