Design is implicit in and integral to India’s aspirations of becoming AatmaNirbhar. Design has played a key role in imagining products and reimagining businesses which are based on skill and resource profiles of regions, especially by identifying cost-effective materials and best manufacturing methods for production of goods. Good design has also helped brands appeal to domestic and international markets.
As against strong international experiences, which suggest that firms and organizations that invest in good design practices are more competitive than others, the perception about design has been rather weak in India. Some relate design to be an ingredient that is applied at the end of a process to beautify an object or a communication. Some regard it as an additional cost, best to be avoided. This is where the real challenge lies.
The scenario is evolving gradually and a new stream of leaders is investing in design and involving designers actively to contribute at the top table. McKinsey research reveals that companies which believe in good design reap a growth in revenue and shareholder returns at about twice the rate as their competitors. However, it is noticed that the designers are not fully utilized as per their potential. Having a stable design leadership and cross -functional team can lead to designing a valuable product or service answering customer’s needs.
To change the organisation’s mindset towards a design-driven approach for solving business challenges, the senior most design expert of the company ought to be part of boardroom discussions, as design is not only about aesthetics, but also about the way the business is run, keeping in mind the need of consumers, company’s growth and market trends.
The design leaders should be engaged and should advice on enhancing holistic user-experience and provide an end-to-end solution. It is pertinent to showcase strong leadership at every step in a project to ensure that the final deliverables are not the only goal, but also make certain that the output of the work generates the maximum possible return on investment. Understanding the team, finding purpose, creating alliances, balancing structure, incorporating flexibility, accessing a company’s design maturity, adopting goals and monitoring the process are some of the key approaches to be adapted by a design leader.
Companies should make the most of the design thinking process with gaining insights on the consumer need, identifying key problem areas, ideating with right tools and techniques, co-creating with all the stakeholders, prototyping and delivering an experience to augment the quality of product/service.
Designers are aware about the fact that a huge part of design happens outside of designers’ influence and therefore they look at the organization from a holistic design perspective segregated into the three categories of people, practices, and platforms.
Design Fiction as mentioned by Joe Gerber, Managing Director, IDEO CoLab is the way to envision a novel future for a business. It focuses on using creative approach to articulate on strategic business decision and charting ways to achieve the goals.
This strategy should focus on four key activities of describing an industry and its role in a consumer’s life, envisaging the future, removing assumptions and market-testing the products with working prototypes.
Companies using the above-mentioned strategies will be able to understand the potential of design and will see that converting to a success story, and indeed nurturing a design culture, will create meaningful and long-lasting change.
Having talked about the need for Industry to engage in design practices, it is pertinent for Government to observe the growth of the design talent, educational institutions and global demand for designers in the changing business landscape. Reviewing and redrafting the India Design Policy to structure this growth will be the most crucial and critical step that Government should take instantly.
The article has been contributed by Udayant Malhoutra, Chairman, CII National Committee on Design and CEO & Managing Director, Dynamatic Technologies Ltd.
It was first published in CII Policy Watch, February 2022.