Have we reached Peak Design? Plotted on Gartner's hype cycle, the design industry's ascendance from relative obscurity to C-suite sweetheart may be said to have slipped over a peak of inflated expectations some years ago. Should we be wary, we might wonder, of a dip into disillusionment? Certainly, the days of business and political leaders pontificating on the virtues of its practice and processes from up high are over. But the trend towards inaugurations of talismanic 'CDOs' in a handful of enlightened organisations might suggest otherwise.
The perils of becoming just another boardroom 'fad that failed' have been foretold [PDF]; in recent years, the grand promises of foolproof processes and silver-bullet problem-solving have distracted from more balanced debate on the role design can play within business. Whilst design sits higher than ever on the business agenda, has a legacy of overblown promises—ultimately impossible to live up to—been left behind?
Meanwhile, last week's (long overdue?) must-read Design Council report on design-led business [PDF], underscores the sticky and at times paradoxical reality of attempting to prove design's value, alongside compelling anecdotal advocacy from influential business leaders. More strong leadership of this sort will be required in the long run, if design is to convert those still loyal to the short-term bottom line. The breadth and depth of any cynical sinkhole (at a macro or individual case level) will be determined by the ability of design leaders to debunk their practise of tired myths, share compelling success stories—beyond the obvious and omnipotent Apple and tech startups—and build new strategic skillsets [PDF] around existing strengths.
Enter the provocatively named Design Authority, a new collaboration between international design leaders practicing within the corporate realm.
The organization is launching with an inaugural assembly in London this Friday, November 15. A few notches less clamorous than previous forums for design, an auspicious list of in-house and agency design champions are meeting—behind (seemingly) closed doors—in an attempt to share invaluable case studies of design impact on innovation, that may go some way in evidencing the transformational potential of design embedded within business.
Whilst the group is already stirring up some controversy regarding its 'white male' majority, heated debate is sure to carry on into the summit, which will address topics ranging from the salience of the Chief Design Officer to forecasting emerging industries that design could play a part in. The outcome of the event is yet to be determined, but some intelligent debate between stayed professionals has to be a step in the right direction for fad-free advocacy of design.
We've been granted exclusive access to tomorrow's summit: Core77's UK correspondent Sam Dunne will be reporting and live-tweeting from behind the scenes at Design Authority 'Reframe' starting at 8am EST/2pm GMT on Friday 15th November.