Not yet, as it turns out. "Despite the number of design leaders in executive positions doubling over the past five years among the world's top 100 companies," writes global management consulting firm McKinsey, "up to 90 percent of organizations are not maximizing the full potential of this valuable resource."
This statistic doesn't come out of thin air. McKinsey interviewed 200 Heads of Design and 100 CEOs, and combined their feedback with an analysis of 1,700 companies that provided data for the McKinsey Design Index, which they use to measure design effectiveness. The resultant information was compiled into a freely downloadable report that was released this week.
At a launch event for the report in San Francisco, McKinsey got three design chiefs to sound off on "what they perceived to be the problems, and the opportunities, for design leaders." Here's what they had to say:
Justin Maguire III, Chief Design Officer at Salesforce:
"The shape of what's expected of a design leader is changing, converging with a change in what customers and users are expecting. A new type of conversation has to happen in the C-suite. You can't fix what you can't measure, and if you're not accountable then you don't count."
Katie Dill, VP of Design at Lyft:
"One of the things that is challenging and exciting about design is that we bring things to life. We visualize things, and oftentimes, what we visualize is the instantiation of the business, but a design team needs to not lose sight of why the company does it in the first place. As a design leader, if an organization is holding you back, then you need to design a way out of that."
Eliel Johnson, Vice President and Head of User Experience Design at Charles Schwab:
"The need for thoughtful design is only going to continue to compound for companies. It is the way they are interacting with their customers, and shows the need to think of design as a verb, not a job title. We need to demystify and democratize the meaning of design for our business partners and colleagues."
I'm going through the report now, and will break out some takeaway points shortly. In the meantime, you can download it yourself here. (It's free, but requires you sign up with an e-mail address.)